History trumps government unpopularity: the June 2003 Polish EU accession referendum

Szczerbiak, Aleks (2004) History trumps government unpopularity: the June 2003 Polish EU accession referendum. West European Politics, 27 (4). pp. 671-690. ISSN 0140-2382

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Abstract

This analysis explains why Poles voted overwhelmingly to join the EU and how the 50% turnout requirement was achieved fairly easily. It argues that most Poles appeared to accept the historical significance of the referendum and de-coupled the issue of EU membership from that of confidence in an extremely unpopular government. This occurred because most key political and social actors, including the opposition parties, called for a Yes vote, while, at the same time, a vigorous campaign by pro-EU civic organisations presented a ‘non-political’ face to the campaign. Although the No camp made tactical errors and had difficulties staying focused on its main arguments, lack of both access to the public media and a convincing or attractive alternative made it extremely difficult for them to mount an effective campaign. At the same time, the stability of the opinion polls in the years leading up to the referendum suggested that most Poles had already made their minds up about the issue well in advance. In spite of the low levels of trust in political parties, partisan cues appeared to be a better predictor of referendum voting behaviour than socio-economic and demographic factors.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Depositing User: Aleks Szczerbiak
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2012 14:01
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2012 14:01
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/25163
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