Why have governments systematically taken positions that are out of synch with what voters want in negotiations on transferring national sovereignty to the EU? Despite the centrality of this question there is little research that has focused explicitly on explaining why governments take positions that are out of synch with their voters. Most existing studies of voter preferences towards European integration have focused either upon the sources of voter preferences or upon party views towards integration. In comparison, there have been almost no studies that have investigated the ‘electoral connection’; in other words the process whereby voter preferences are translated into actual national positions in EU constitutional negotiations. Using data drawn from the 1996-97 negotiation of the Treaty of Amsterdam, this paper attempts to explain why voter preferences are often not reflected in national positions. It is found that the level of ‘disproportionality’ of the electoral system has an impact upon the level of divergence between national positions and voter views.
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Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, 2009