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Europe in QuestionReferendums on European Integration$
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Sara Binzer Hobolt

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199549948

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199549948.001.0001

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Voter Competence: What do Voters Need to Know?

Voter Competence: What do Voters Need to Know?

(p.135) 6 Voter Competence: What do Voters Need to Know?
Europe in Question

Sara Binzer Hobolt (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

What do voters need to know? That is the question examined in this chapter which explores voting behaviour in EU referendums from a normative perspective by considering the issue of voter competence. The main argument put forward in the chapter is that that competent voting in EU referendums is based on issue‐specific preferences and requires political knowledge, but not necessarily high levels of factual political information, since information short‐cuts such as party cues can act as substitutes for detailed information. These theoretical questions are evaluated empirically in an analysis of the 1994 Norwegian referendum on EU membership. This case study reveals that most citizens can vote ‘competently’ by relying on the recommendations of political parties, although it does not follow that voters necessarily adhere to this advice.

Keywords:   accession, cues, direct democracy, heuristics, information, knowledge, membership, Norway, party competition, political parties, voter competence

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