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Brexit – Exercise of Democracy or a Challenge to Democracy?

Author: Pernice, I.
Published in: I. Pernice, & A. M. Guerra Martins, Brexit and the Future of EU Politics. A Constitutional Law Perspective. (pp. 101–130). Baden-Baden: Nomos.
Year: 2019
Type: Book contributions and chapters
DOI: 10.5771/9783748903246-101

The Brexit process is no doubt a challenge to the EU. Is it also a challenge to democracy? Or is it just an exercise of democracy? Looking closer at both, the provisions for the withdrawal from the EU and their application by the UK and the EU no serious violation of democratic principles can be determined. Some doubts, however, arise with regard to certain aspects of the process in practice, starting from the conditions and preparation of the referendum up to the effect given by a broad majority to its result, notwithstanding the advisory nature only. The present contribution discusses questions of appropriate democratic participation to a referendum of the given kind, of dealing with systemic lying and manipulation in political processes, binding effects of a referendum in a parliamentary democracy and the role of courts in relation to the parliament and the government when it comes to decide upon far-reaching constitutional issues. Some lessons are drawn from the experience of Brexit so far, not least for the rising awareness of citizens of the Union for political developments across borders and of challenges to democracy the abuse of new information technologies can bring about at all political levels. Whatever the outcome of the process with all its threats to democracy it brings about, it will trigger a transformation both of the UK and the EU. Should Brexit really happen, the door so remains open for an enlightened return as an expression of democracy.

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Ingolf Pernice, Prof. Dr. Dr.

Former HIIG Founder and Research Director (retd)

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