Is Brexit a true democratic decision?

Definitely, will the whole UK leave the EU?

Parlamento UE

Brexit has won by 51,9% against 48,1%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, and 28.2% didn’t vote, and we do not know their opinion. In fact Brexit is backed by only 37,3% of the whole population with the right to vote.

The poll divided the UK. Is the purpose of a democracy to divide the people, to divide a country?

From one side, England voted for Brexit by 53.4%, and 46.6%, so did Wales, with Brexit obtaining 52.5% against 47.5% Remain.

But on the other side, Scotland, Northern Ireland and London both voted Remain. Scotland by 62% against 38%, Northern Ireland  55.8% against 44.2%, and London, the capital of the UK, 59.9% against 40.1%. Gibraltar voted even more than 90% Remain.

England and Wales decided for the rest of the UK and against the will of the other regions of the UK. What kind of democracy is this? Can we call this “democratic quality”?

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Londen (and Gibraltar) are all unhappy, even angry. Scotland could ask for a new referendum to leave the UK and join the EU, and Northern Ireland is dreaming of uniting with Ireland, and in such a way remain in the EU.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that it is “democratically unacceptable” that Scotland faces being taken out of the EU when it voted to Remain. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that the whole island of Ireland should now be able to vote on reunification.

In their book “Introducing Democracy“, David Beetham and Kevin Boyle pose the question: “Is the majority rule always democratic?” And they speak of the “subordination of minorities” and “the right to veto legislation which threatens their vital interests”, such as “their autonomy in running their own affairs“. They conclude that “A wise majority will go someway towards meeting the minority, if at all possible, rather than using its majority position simply to overrule them. Democracy is only sustainable if people can agree to continue living together. and that requires that majorities, and the governments representing them, be prepared to exercise a measure of self-restraint, and do not always use the majority procedure to capture everything for themselves and their own point of view.”

Other democracies as for instance the Belgian Federal State require for transcendent matters that at least two thirds of the votes are required to be valid, as well in the country as a whole as in each region.

Quality of democracy is important. What happened with the Brexit poll is not high quality democracy.



9 thoughts on “Is Brexit a true democratic decision?

  1. Frankly, those who couldn’t be bothered to vote or form an opinion on the issue of EU membership chose to exclude themselves from the decision, and de facto opted to accept whatever result was returned by those who did vote.
    Moreover, it was clear from the Act of Parliament which authorised the referendum and was clearly stated in the question on the Ballot Paper, that this was a UK wide ballot, the result of which would be a consensus of the will of the whole UK.
    It was clear also that the result would be decided by simple majority.
    Being a Scottish Unionist, who lives in Scotland, My opinion was that Britain should leave the EU because I believe it to be in the best interest of myself, my family, and future generations of my countrymen, and despite realising that the SNP would shamelessly try to use the type of result that seemed likely to be returned to agitate for a second independence referendum I voted as my conscience dictated.
    The result for Brexit was a democratically fair result and should be implemented by our Government. Hopefully our new Prime Minister Theresa May will carry through on her commitment to do so, unlike her predecessor David Cameron who reneged on his pre referendum promises to continue as Prime Minister in the event of a Brexit vote and lead Britain out of the EU.


    1. As it was a UK wide ballot, Brexit decision would have been more democratic if the simple majority were required in every region of the UK. Now the referendum has divided the UK with 2 in favor of Brexit and 4 in favor of Remain. The majority of the regions preferred to Remain. The minority of the regions have imposed Brexit to the majority.


      1. Firstly I must correct you, there are not six regions within the UK, there are four countries which have been united through Acts of Parliament, in to one United Kingdom.
        The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the EU member state, not England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
        You agree that it was a UK wide ballot, but argue that should one of the ‘regions’ of the U.K. Have voted against it then the UK wide democratic majority should have been thwarted.
        In other words, the voting power of Northern Ireland’s 1.8 million population would far outweigh that of England’s 60 million.
        How could that be more democratic?
        A perverse idea of democracy indeed.
        Surely it’s unarguable that the ideal form of democracy is one man one vote, where every vote carries the same weight, and every single vote counts.


  2. From a Brexiteer’s perspective it is ironic you use:

    “subordination of minorities” and “the right to veto legislation which threatens their vital interests”, such as “their autonomy in running their own affairs“

    as reasons why a democratic imbalance has been created.

    It is precisely the failure by the EU elite to recognise that these are the effects on the whole EU population of “the Project” that the UK referendum produced the result it did.


    1. “ironic”?. Several regions of the UK voted against Brexit but the other have imposed their will to them. Brexit divided the UK. Brexit is a solution that divides, not that unites. Poor quality democracy has I called it.


  3. It’s the nature of democracy to be divisive, since it’s based around making choices, and of course there will always be disagreement.
    The world however has not ended since the Brexit vote was returned, in fact in many ways the prophets of doom have been confounded, while its the EU itself which seems riven with discord and dissent.
    Personally I don’t believe the EU will survive Brexit.


    1. In the USA ocurred the opposite. Hillary Clinton got about 3 millons votes more than Donald Trump and with the rules of Brexit she should now be the president. It meant that the vote of every american did not have the same value. They had also their “democratic” rule. But it seems that democracy rules are different from one nation to another. Which of both systems is the best democracy? What is than real democracy? These are democratic rules which are substracting instead of adding social value.


      1. There are many different forms of democracy.
        The United States has chosen the electoral college system for their Presidential Elections.
        President Trump won the greatest number of Electoral College votes, therefore under their system he was properly elected.
        The UK electoral system is different in that we elect constituency candidates, the leader of the party with most seats becoming Prime Minister, or in the case of a coalition of Parties, one of their number, usually the leader of the largest party will become Prime Minister.
        In both these systems the governing party may well be elected by a minority of the popular vote.
        If anything referenda are more democratic, since the vote of every elector carries equal weight, and it takes an actual majority of over 50% of those who vote, to decide the issue.


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