This article addresses the input legitimacy of the British EU membership referendum of 2016. It considers who was given a vote in the first place, and whether those given a vote could make a reasonable choice in light of the campaign. More precisely, it assesses the following four criteria: the franchise, the presence of clarity, the amount and quality of information and the quality of public debate. The article argues that instances of direct democracy, such as referendums, require higher standards of civic behaviour from both elected representatives and voters than representative democracy. Applying these criteria to the EU referendum shows it fell short of the first two whilst it could have done better as regards the last two. The article concludes by briefly discussing what can be learnt from this referendum for the future.
Brexit, EU referendum, European Union, Democratic legitimacy, Input legitimacy
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