Referendum dynamics and the Irish divorce amendment

R. Darcy, Michael Laver

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Referendums are typically interpreted in terms unique to a particular time and place; the 1986 Irish divorce referendum has been no exception. Here this vote is examined in light of referendums in the United States and elsewhere in an attempt to identify more pervasive patterns. It is concluded that there is a referendum dynamic capable of anticipating the diverse fluoridation votes of the 1950s, the ERA campaigns of the 1970s, and the Irish divorce vote of 1986, all of which displayed large voter shifts from an initial majority in favor to an eventual majority against. The dynamic process involved appears to be a pattern of elite retreat brought about by community conflict, rather than the result of confusion, ignorance, a herd instinct, or alienation in the electorate.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1-20
    Number of pages20
    JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1990

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Communication
    • History
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • General Social Sciences
    • History and Philosophy of Science


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