Referenda could make the EU 'fall apart'
By Lisbeth Kirk
In her new book, Danish Liberal EU spokesperson Charlotte Antonsen questions the use of referenda as a useful way to build up European democracy.
The book - "Towards the European Constitution" warns that the EU could fall apart if the Danish practise of consulting the people in referenda over important EU treaties is copied by other member states.
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"Referenda have a very conservative effect on development. If the other countries copy us, the EU will fall apart", she writes.
Mrs Antonsen, a member of the Danish Parliament for the ruling Liberal party, argues that representative democracy is just as democratic as referenda.
"Referenda are in fact pure gambling. There is no guarantee of a positive outcome, unfortunately".
While Mrs Antonsen is backed by the Danish mainstream parties favourable to European integration, Holger K. Nielsen, the leader of the socialist SF-party defended referenda as a democratic tool.
He told Berlingske Tidende, "we would not have had a EU debate in this country had it not been for the referenda. They have stirred a debate about Europe that has not taken place in other countries".
Denmark has so far held six EU-related referenda and Mrs Antonsen still backs the idea that Danish opt-outs from the EU treaties can only be scrapped by referenda.
Denmark has opted out from the euro-zone, EU defence and other important areas of EU co-operation.
On the other site of the narrow Oresund sound, in Sweden the ruling Social Democrat party backed by the majority of the Parliament has decided not to hold a referendum on the Constitution despite growing calls to do so.
From inside the party, a group of 24 Social Democrat politicians led by MP Sören Wibe has appealed for a referendum in Sweden and have now formed an association to promote their demand inside the party.
However, the Social Democrat party secretary Lars Stjernkvist defended the decision not to have a referendum by saying it risks asking questions that can not be simply narrowed down to a yes or a no.