The purpose of this article is twofold. First, it surveys Ireland’s European Union referendum experience, tracing the key actors, issues and political dynamics of seven European referendums from 1973 to 2008. It unpicks the institutional rules of the referendum game in Ireland stemming from the McKenna and Coughlan judgements, the operation of the Referendum Commission and the effect of this institutional environment on referendum campaigns and\ud outcomes. Second, building on a framework originally developed by Darcy and Laver (1990), this article investigates the emergence of a dynamic in Irish referendums on EU treaties with two key elements: elite withdrawal and populist capture
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