Referendums on specific EU policies or EU integration more generally have become a familiar feature of EU politics. Dermot Hodson and Imelda Maher consider three main explanations for governments’ increasing call for referendums: to secure bargaining advantages at the EU level, to enhance political standing domestically and to (de-)legitimize EU decision-making. Based on case studies of eight single issue referendums in five EU member states, they demonstrate that governments tend to call a referendum when the issue at stake can be approved under domestic law, but lacks political legitimacy. Government leaders use referendums either to manage internal party differences, gain electoral advantages over rivals or boost their personal popularity. In light of these results, Dermot and Imelda contend that referendums as a strategic instrument of direct democracy will remain a prominent feature of EU politics in the future.