A commitment to introduce rules to ensure fair referendums in Council of Europe member States
Motion for a resolution
| Doc. 14299
| 26 April 2017
- Lord George FOULKES,
United Kingdom, SOC ; Lord Donald ANDERSON,
United Kingdom, SOC ; Lord Richard BALFE,
United Kingdom, EC ; Ms Eka BESELIA,
Georgia, SOC ; Ms Sílvia Eloïsa BONET,
Andorra, SOC ; Ms Lise CHRISTOFFERSEN,
Norway, SOC ; Ms Tamar CHUGOSHVILI,
Georgia, SOC ; Mr Geraint DAVIES,
United Kingdom, SOC ; Alexander [The Earl of] DUNDEE,
United Kingdom, EC ; Mr Nigel EVANS,
United Kingdom, EC ; Ms Emine Nur GÜNAY,
Turkey, EC ; Ms Sofio KATSARAVA,
Georgia, SOC ; Mr Luís LEITE RAMOS,
Portugal, EPP/CD ; Mr Ian LIDDELL-GRAINGER,
United Kingdom, EC ; Mr Philippe MAHOUX,
Belgium, SOC ; Mr Gordan MARAS,
Croatia, SOC ; Sir Alan MEALE,
United Kingdom, SOC ; Mr John PRESCOTT,
United Kingdom, SOC ; Mr Stefan SCHENNACH,
Austria, SOC ; Mr Paul SCHNABEL,
Netherlands, ALDE ; Mr Nico SCHRIJVER,
Netherlands, SOC ; Mr Adão SILVA,
Portugal, EPP/CD ; Ms Tineke STRIK,
Netherlands, SOC ; Ms Petra De SUTTER,
Belgium, SOC ; Mr Mart van de VEN,
This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only those who have signed it.
The number of referendums in Council of Europe member States
has significantly increased in recent years. These have included
votes on gay marriage in Ireland, the “Brexit” referendum in the
United Kingdom, referendums on immigration in Switzerland and in
Hungary, and the constitutional referendum organised by President
Erdoğan in Turkey in April 2017.
In each case questions have been raised about the process
of the referendum and the fairness of the outcome.
Against such a background, it is worth noting that there are
no commonly agreed standards relating to the conduct of referendums
and no clear definition of what constitutes a free, fair and legitimate
The Parliamentary Assembly should inquire into this matter
and consider preparing a list of agreed criteria to ensure that
referendums held in Council of Europe member States are fair, free
and legitimate, including making recommendations on:
- Registration: who is eligible
to vote and where and how are they to be registered?
- Voting: where should voting take place? Should displaced
voters and voters living in the diaspora be entitled to vote – and
if so, where?
- How would a regulating authority (The Referendum Commission)
be composed? Who would determine its membership?
- Should referendums be subject to a special majority requirement,
in recognition of the implications? Should the result stand if it
is supported by less than 50 per cent. of eligible voters but by
a majority of those voting?
- Should there be limits on campaign spending, or should
participants’ campaign contributions be capped? If so, how should
this be enforced?
- How should information be dealt with? Should all sides
have equal broadcasting time? If so, how would this be enforced?