Internet's role in the EU referendum?
June 27, 2006 7:45 PM   Subscribe

What role did the internet play in the Dutch and French referendums on the EU constituion last year?

I've worked a fair amount on The Netherlands half of this, but there is little that directly supports a connection between the internet and the 'no' vote result. There is more that I've found on France, but still not enough.

What I am specifically examining is how the internet swayed the vote for the 'no' side; in other words the ways that this camp organized online to defeat the seemingly stronger 'yes' campaigners. I have spoken to pollsters in both countries about this with little luck.

Thank you in advance.
posted by names are hard to Law & Government (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think anyone knows for sure.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:59 PM on June 27, 2006

Internet played a role, surely. In the Netherlands at least. But the problem with your question is that one would have to take into account that the popular opinion about the EU wasn't too good either before the referendum.

When the euro was introduced many Dutch people felt the prices in shops, café's and restaurants simply were doubled [ 1 euro = 2,20 guilders ]

And over the years our governments always have used the EU as a bogeyman, so they could make hard decisions while shifting the blaim to Brussels. 'Europe says so, so we have to obey'.

Apart from that, the current Dutch cabinet isn't too popular either, and it was in this climate a totally stupid government campaign was launched to say yes to the European Constitution.

Campaigns to say nay weren't sponsored.

And I do think that part of the no-voters may have reacted to the stupidity of the official government campaign as well. We were told a no-vote could result in troubles and war. Nay-sayers were called stupid and uninformed by our dear prime-minister.

Dutch MEP Jan Mulder even campaigned with a clip that showed corpses in Auschwitz and Srebrenica to warn us.

A really big problem at the time was that both cabinet and opposition parties wanted us to vote yes. The only political parties against the constitution were ultraleft SP, some Christian slivers, and rightwing populist Geert Wilders. About whom I wrote on my weblog at the time: If stupidity could be equalled to cold, Geert Wilders would approach zero Kelvin.

Apart from that: all the major newspapers advised us to say yes.

So, all in all. In this climate internet had a major role for people who weren't so sure about the merits of the Constitution. But, it will be incredibly hard to say how big a role, also because the nay-sayers aren't easily defined as a group.
posted by ijsbrand at 2:52 AM on June 28, 2006

Here in France, there were a lot of television debates, which were interesting but in the end too quick to cover it all. All french people received the Constitution itself together with an how to. Mostly, I think the opinion of people didn't really change, but if one site in France had anything to do for the No, it probably was Etienne Chouard's.

Teacher of economics in Marseille, he started a personnal website, which got so huge that Chouard became of symbol of the No, got interviewed in many major newspapers.
I don't think any French political party made any impression online during the referendum. Hell, they're just beginning to discover blogs, since the next presidential election is next year.

In the blogging world, the Yes camp had Publius, which debunked Chouard's affirmations here.

Myself, I voted yes, mostly after reading this blog post.

But, like I said, I'm afraid a lot of French made up their mind about it all long before there even was a national debate about the constitution...
posted by XiBe at 6:02 AM on June 28, 2006

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