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As we’re writing this very day, the growing interest for direct democracy disrupts traditional political parties and institutions around the world. This new deal weighs increasingly heavily on governance in some countries and on their interactions with others. Electoral and referendum processes are also affected.

It would therefore be revelant to question the role of the constitutional framework at times when the triviality of certain speeches should not make us forget the ideal democratic objective : to allow citizens with various ideas to live together.

With our guests, ECE and ECT students will have the pleasure to explore this issue through the themes below.

We hope you'll enjoy it !

Thomas  Dinh

GUEST

MAIN TOPICS

  • the Spanish Constitution 2015-2018: granted stability

  • the Anticonstitutional Catalan Referendum

  • the Brexit Referendum, by Gyslaine Ouka

  • the Venezuelian Constitutional Assembly

The Brexit Referendum

In our  presentation, we'll be talking to you about Brexit.

First of all, it will be worthwhile to define what Brexit means : Brexit is an abbreviation of the term « British Exit ». Indeed, Brexit refers to the possibility of Britain withdrawing from the European Union (EU).

Then, it is important to ask the question : Why the Call for Referendum? 

When David Cameron became the prime minister of Britain in 2010 as head of a Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition, he had to withstand pressure about a Europe vote from UKIP with Nigel Farage and from restive eurosceptics in his own party. Finally, in 2013 he promised an in-out referendum on EU membership if the Conservatives won the 2015 election. He secured an absolute majority in 2015 and hence the referendum. 

However, referendums are not considered as constitutional. Amongst their principles are the accountability of ministers, the independence of the judiciary and most importantly the sovereignty of parliament. These rules have been tested nearly to destruction by Brexit.

For Brexit one of the main leave arguments was that the UK - as one of the wealthier countries in the Union – was contributing too much money to the EU budget. Another factor that pushed Britain toward the exit was terrorism and immigration from Syria.

On June 23rd 2016, British voted : 51.9% for leave and 48.1% for remain. This means that the UK has voted to leave the EU and  to become the first country to leave the Union. But almost 30% of british citizens did not vote because nothing specified if the referendum was binding or merely advisory.

But, the consequences were immediate. David Cameron resigned and the value of the British pound plummeted. Then, Theresa may, a member of cameron’s cabinet, became prime minister. She sent a letter to EU President Donald Tusk invoking article 50.Article 50 is a clause in the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty that outlines the steps to be taken by a country seeking to leave the bloc wilfully. Which starts a two year’s countdown for the UK to negotiate their future relationship with Europe before they leave.

Two years isn’t a very long time to get through the long list of key points which include : How much the UK will pay for EU projects and programs that it committed to before Brexit ; what the rights will be for EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa,for britons living in the EU ; what will happen to Scotland, who voted to remain in the EU by a large margin, what will happen along the  land border between Northern Ireland (of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (an EU member state).

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To conclude, Brexit put an entire country headed into the unknown and divided the country into two parts : people who wanted to stay in the European Union and people who wanted to leave.
The vote was made democratically, so the United Kingdom need to find a deal with the EU to
maintain peace on his territory because for the moment the UK and the EU cannot agree and  do not have not found solutions.

Gyslaine Ouka, ECT2