Neglected issues in the EU Referendum Bill

Credit: Quinn DombrowskiProfessor Richard Rose, Director of the Centre for the Study of Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde, explores unresolved issues in relation to the EU referendum bill, including voting thresholds and prospective timelines of reform and EU negotiations.

 

Will there be a turnout threshold making the referendum decisive?

At the UK’s 2014 European Parliament (EP) election turnout was 35.6 percent and at the 2015 British general election it was 66.2 percent.

Turnout at EU referendums across Europe normally falls between an EP and a national election. This implies a likely UK turnout of around 51 percent. If this occurred, the referendum majority would be little more than one-quarter of the British electorate.

On issues of constitutional importance most democratic countries introduce special requirements to secure broader commitment. In the 1979 referendum on devolution to Scotland endorsement by 40 percent of the registered electorate was required to secure approval. Although a majority approved on a turnout of 63 percent, devolution failed since less than a third of the Scottish electorate approved the Act. Continue reading