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Referenda in the UK


Dominic Howell

on 1 March 2013

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Transcript of Referenda in the UK

Referenda in the UK Referenda are single issue questions put to the electorate.
They have a simple yes/no vote. This ensures that the outcome
is a majoritarian one. Of voters at least, if not awlays the electorate. In the UK there are a number of reasons why
they have been only sparingly used. Parliament is sovereign, therefore any referendum is not binding on Parliament ("advisory") Since Parliaments are generally majoritarian, there is often no need for a referendum as the will of Parliament is clear Referenda generally undermine the authority of Parliament Referenda might indicate that the Parliament cannot come to a verdict and therefore smack of weak leadership by the party in government Issues might be too complex for the electorate to understand The electorate may use a referendum as a vote of confidence in the government Apathy or voter fatigue may set in Rich and/or powerful pressure groups might affect the decision The nature of the question may affect the outcome The use of referenda in the UK 1973 - Should Northern Ireland remain part of the United Kingdom? Outcome: Boycotted by the Catholic/Nationalist community. Therefore felt to be lacking in legitimacy. - the actual outcome was virtual unanimity to remain in the UK. 1975 - Should the UK remain in the Common Market? Yes 67.5%
No 32.5% 1979 - Should there be devolution for Scotland? Yes 51.6%
No 49.4% Note that Parliament had inserted a clause that 40% of the electorate had to say yes for Devolution to occur. 1979 Should there be devolution to Wales? Yes 20.3%
No 79.7% 1997 "I agree that there should be a Parliament for Scotland" Yes 74.3%
No 25.7% t/o 60% 1997 I agree that a Scottish Parliament should have tax-varying powers Yes 63.5%
No 36.5% 1997 "Yr wyf yn cytuno y dylid cael Cynulliad Cymreig" 1997 "I agree that there should be a Welsh Assembly" Electorate 2,218,850
Turnout 50.1%
Yr wyf yn cytuno y dylid cael Cynulliad Cymreig /
I agree that there should be a Welsh Assembly 559,419 (50.3%)
Nid wyf yn cytuno y dylid cael Cynulliad Cymreig /
I do not agree that there should be a Welsh Assembly 552,698 (49.7%)
Spoilt Ballot Papers 4,003 How many votes made the difference? Note that this was held 1 week after the Scottish referendum result. 1998 "Should the Good Friday Agreement be implemented? This vitally needed clear consent from both communities to be considered legitimate Yes 71.1%
No 28.9% 1998 "Are you in favour of the government's proposals for a Greater London Authority,
made up of an elected mayor and a separately elected assembly? Electorate 5,016,064
Turnout 34.1%
In favour of the Greater London Authority 1,230,759 72.0
Against the Greater London Authority 478,413 28.0
Spoilt Ballot Papers 26,178 2011 Alternative Vote Referendum 2011 Alternative Vote (AV) referendum 41% t/o
32% Yes
68% No

Seen as a humiliation for Nick Clegg
Full transcript