The Referendum on the Accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union Cover Image
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Referendum o přistoupení ČR k Evropské unii
The Referendum on the Accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union

Author(s): Tomáš Lebeda
Subject(s): Politics / Political Sciences
Published by: Mezinárodní politologický ústav Masarykovy univerzity v Brně
Keywords: referendum; European Union; electoral polls; voting behavior; Czech Republic.

Summary/Abstract: The referendum on the accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union was the first – and thus far the only – national referendum in the history of both the Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia. Although it was obvious that the majority of the Czech population was in favor of joining the European Union, sociologists could not predict the turnout. The polls had shown that at least 70 percent of the population would vote “Yes”. However, as there had been no referendum in the country’s history before, there were fears of voter apathy. There was no experience concerning the difference between public opinion polls and the actual results. Regardless of these factors, TNS Factum offered a very accurate prediction of voter turnout and of support for accession. The voting pattern in the actual referendum was firmly correlated with and similar to the voting behavior in the 2002 parliamentary elections. A study on electoral data showed a strong correlation between the support for Koalice (Coalition of liberals and Christian democrats) in the 2002 general election and the pro-EU votes in the 2003 referendum. The Czech referendum was not an exception compared to developments in other post-communist states. Nevertheless, there is a clear difference between east European referenda and past EU referenda in Western Europe. The latter were characterized by higher voter turnout and by relatively less enthusiasm concerning EU accession. In this respect, the post-communist referenda were the inverse. They displayed low voter turnout and high support for accession; hence, they demonstrate the differing perceptions of the east European populations and their western counterparts.

  • Issue Year: XI/2004
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 206-223
  • Page Count: 17
  • Language: Czech