Abstract. Denmark had five referendums in the period from 1972 to 1998 dealing with Danish membership in the European Community, the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty, the Edinburgh Agreement and the Amsterdam Treaty. Did the Danes really address these issues and involve themselves actively in the policy–making process on a vital issue or did they merely vote for or against the current government? The latter option represents the ‘second order’ elections argument advanced by Mark Franklin and others (see Franklin's article in this issue). If correct in this instance, it may have important and negative consequences for the potential of referendums to involve citizens more directly in the way they are governed. In this article, the Franklin thesis is assessed on the basis of data on voting behaviour in five Danish referendums on Europe and the democratic implications of these findings are discussed.