We asked respondent to express their views on the UK government’s decision to call a referendum on “Brexit”—Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union—in June 2016, proposing the following options: 1) it was a right decision, because any peaceful expression of the popular will should be welcomed; 2) it was a right decision, even though it can be risky to hold a referendum on such a complex issue; 3) it was a mistake to hold a referendum on such a complex issue, but the British government has to respect its outcome; 4) it was a mistake to hold a referendum on such a complex issue, and British institutions must now find a way to minimize damages from its outcome. Overall, respondents are almost evenly distributed on the four options, with extreme negative opinions only slightly higher (29.4%) than extreme positive ones (27.2%). Even considering the more nuanced intermediate options, our sample was split down the middle, with 49% of positive attitudes and 51% with negative attitudes. Perhaps not surprisingly, British respondents emerged as among the most polarized. As for the other six countries surveyed, Italy has the highest number of respondents backing the referendum (35.5%), followed by France (29.0%) and Sweden (27.1%). The critics’ front, on the other hand, is led by Germany (34.3%), Poland (34.4.%) and Spain (34.4.%).

A second question surveyed, more generally, respondents’ support for exiting the European Union. The exit option was rejected by the majority of voters: two thirds of respondents claim that they would vote for their country remaining in the Union (66.2%), while 24.7% of them would vote for leaving. The remaining 9.1% say that they would not vote in such a scenario. The share of “remainers” is highest in Germany (75.1%), followed by Spain (73.8%). On the other hand, more than 34% of French and Swedish respondents would vote for leaving the EU. Italy is in third place, with 28.6% of “Exiters”.

Photo Credits CC Duncan Hull

This infographic is part of a series examining the results of an original seven-country mass survey conducted by REScEU. Click here to view all the contributions in the series.

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