Laura Sharman 01 September 2016

EU referendum suffered ‘glaring democratic deficiencies’

A ‘root and branch review’ of the role and conduct of referendums is needed to ensure errors made during the EU vote are not repeated, say campaign group.

The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) published their report into the conduct of the European Union (EU) referendum today, which claims the debate suffered from ‘glaring democratic deficiencies’.

Polling, published in the report, shows many people felt ill-informed about the debate. It also reveals many felt the ‘big beast’ personalities did not engage or convince voters.

The ERS’ poll findings also demonstrate voters viewed both sides as increasingly negative as the campaign progressed.

The report, entitled It’s Good to Talk: doing referendums differently after the EU vote, compared the EU vote negatively to the Scottish independence referendum, which it says featured a ‘vibrant, well-informed, grassroots conversation that left a lasting legacy of on-going public participation in politics and public life’.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: ‘This report shows without a shadow of a doubt just how dire the EU referendum debate really was.

‘There were glaring democratic deficiencies in the run-up to the vote, with the public feeling totally ill-informed. Both sides were viewed as highly negative by voters, while the top-down, personality-based nature of the debate failed to address major policies and issues, leaving the public in the dark.’

‘It’s time for a root and branch review of referendums, learning the lessons of the EU campaign to make sure the mistakes that were made in terms of regulation, tone and conduct are never repeated,’ she added.

‘Let’s make sure that future referendums guarantee the lively and well-informed discussion that voters deserve.’

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