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The Difficulty of Justifying European Integration as a Consequence of Depoliticization: Evidence from the 2005 French Referendum


This article analyses the 2005 French referendum debate on the EU Constitutional Treaty as an instance of depoliticization. Particular emphasis is placed on the argumentative strategy of President Chirac as, despite the treaty's focus on institutional reform, he eventually chose to justify the document in terms of social policy: an ultimately unconvincing strategy because voters believed it was contradicted by current EU policy priorities. On this evidence, pace Glyn Morgan, prioritizing a justification of EU finality over that of institutions and policies does not seem appropriate. Rather, the priority for integration is to overcome elites' strategies of depoliticization during referendum campaigns.

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G. Majone , ‘The Common Sense of European Integration’, Journal of European Public Policy, 13: 5 (2006), pp. 607–26.

M. Pollack , ‘Creeping Competence: The Expanding Agenda of the European Community’, Journal of Public Policy, 14: 2 (1994), pp. 95145.

G. Ivaldi , ‘Beyond France's 2005 Referendum on the European Constitutional Treaty: Second-Order Model, Anti-Establishment Attitudes and the End of the Alternative European Utopia’, West European Politics, 29 (2006), pp. 4769.

R. Dehousse , ‘The Unmaking of a Constitution: Lessons from the European Referenda’, Constellations, 13 (2006), pp. 151–64.

S. Maatsch , ‘The Struggle to Control Meanings: The French Debate on the European Constitution in the Mass Media’, Perspectives on European Politics and Society, 8 (2007), pp. 261–80.

E. Haywood , ‘The French Socialists and European Institutional Reform’, Journal of European Integration, 12 (1989), pp. 121–50.

V. Schmidt , ‘Trapped by Their Ideas: French Elites' Discourses of European Integration and Globalization’, Journal of European Public Policy, 14 (2007), pp. 9921009.

P. Mair , ‘Political Opposition and the European Union’, Government and Opposition, 42: 1 (2007), pp. 117.

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Government and Opposition
  • ISSN: 0017-257X
  • EISSN: 1477-7053
  • URL: /core/journals/government-and-opposition
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