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Now Europe needs a democratic re-start

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Now Europe needs a democratic re-start


The vote in the United Kingdom on EU membership on 23rd June shows that referendums must be desigend better and that the European Union now completely needs to be democratically reformed. This is Democracy International’s conclusion of the "Brexit"-referendum, in which 52 per cent of voters decided to leave the EU. The turnout was at 72 per cent.

”Overall, the referendum was well done in terms of preparing, running and conducting it but yet it was far from best practice. It is very problematic that Prime Minister David Cameron had triggered the referendum in a plebiscite way and that the campaign was rushed through in just two official months of campaigning. So both the legal framework for holding referendums and the time-frames offered need to be updated” states Bruno Kaufmann, board member of Democracy International.

Prime Minister David Cameron had promised the UK referendum on EU membership in case of being re-elected at the Parliamentary elections of 2015. Doing so, Cameron combined elements of direct and representative democracy. From a democratic perspective, however, there should be a clear distinction between votes and elections, not given in yesterday’s UK’s referendum on EU membership.

”Looking at the UK referendum from a European perspective the vote by the British people is a very powerful signal as the UK now will leave the EU. Yet, we should remember that this was not a vote against the European Union for the first time. Since the the first Danish ”Nej”-vote 23 years ago electorates across Europe have repeatedly voted down proposals for more integration including the French ”no” to the Constitutional Treaty and most recently the Dutch citizens in a popular vote about the EU-Ukraine Treaty. We should question why so many people are against the EU. Yesterday’s no-vote means the moment to now fully include citizens in the debate and to truly democratise the EU” says Kaufmann.

Democracy International has been demanding for years to fully democratise the European Union with an EU Convention that brings together citizens, politicians and civil society alike to debate the future of the EU. According to Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty, substantial changes affecting the EU require a Convention to approve amendments to the EU Treaties. For Democracy International this Convention must be transparent and democratic. All EU citizens are to decide on the outcome of the Convention in a European-wide referendum.

Background Dossier: Democracy International is supplying with this press release the background paper: "The Brexit referendum in 10 points. Criticism concerning democracy policy and outlook for the EU".

This paper is also available in German here

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