Skip to navigationSkip to content

Brexit in context: Every EU membership vote since 1972

  • Keith Collins
By Keith Collins

Tech Reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Of the 46.5 million voters who turned out to the polls in the United Kingdom yesterday (June 23), those who voted to remain in the EU lost by a margin of 3.8 percentage points.

That result contrasts sharply with the UK’s vote to join the EU in 1975. In that referendum, 67.2% voted to join, winning by a margin of 34.4 points. Here’s where both instances fall among every other EU membership vote in the past 40 years:

Including yesterday’s referendum, there have been 25 EU membership votes since 1972. But this was the first time an existing member has voted on whether to leave. (That’s if you don’t count Greenland, which left the EU in 1982, but remained tied to Denmark, which is still a member.)

Previously, Switzerland, and Norway voted repeatedly to not join the EU at all:

While Britain’s choice to leave is surprising, it’s also consistent with previous membership votes for non-founding members in Western Europe. Though most countries in the western region have voted to join, they haven’t exactly been enthusiastic about it—the average vote to join (or stay) across Western Europe is only 53%.

Eastern European countries, on the other hand, have been far more keen:

📬 A periodic dispatch from the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in NYC.

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.