Thursday, June 19, 2008

We Were Right To Vote No -- Democracy Dead In EU

I am amazed and delighted in the Irish public. First, because 53.4 per cent of you voted "No" to an EU treaty that would create a super-state set to squash workers' rights and the democratic principles on which our country (and the EU itself) was founded. And second because a remarkable 53.1 per cent of you decided to get out and vote either way. Does any other western democracy have this sort of voter turnout?

So no matter if you voted "Yes" or "No" I think Ireland has shown the world we care.

But now for the bad news.

Lech Kaczynski, who rules a somewhat large country called Poland has said the result is "no great tragedy". Gordon Brown of the UK is pushing through the bill in the UK, as protesters are hauled out of parliament one after another. And Jean-Pierre Jouyet, the French minister for European affairs, is suggesting that everyone just ignore the Irish and get on with it.

It looks like that will indeed be the way. But it is the opposite of fair and the opposite of the principles all the EU member states purport to stand for.

What should by rights happen now is that, seeing the tenor of the EU citizenry, all the other 26 countries should be invited to have their own referenda. This would allow the people of the EU to speak instead of being muffled by 300 pages of legalese designed to hide a few well-designed constitutional changes building the EU super-state. It would be the morally correct position.

Anyone laying bets on that happening?

Some will now say Ireland was stupid to vote "No", that they should have played along to get the financial rewards for toeing the line.

I say this is a morally bankrupt position. And illogical too. What the EU is showing by ignoring democracy in Ireland is that we were right to vote "No" in the first place.

For more read The Times "Ireland's vote on the Lisbon treaty: no means no" and Der Spiegel "Why Europe Should Listen to Ireland".

In some sort of supreme irony I was unable to vote in the Irish referendum. I can vote in local and federal elections and indeed for the EU parliament. But holding an EU passport in Ireland was not enough to get me a vote on an important EU matter. Strangely my partner was told the same, though she does have an Irish passport. She was told that wasn't enough -- she had to have been born in Ireland! So somehow there are two classes of Irish citizens? We need to investigate further. In the meantime we are glad the "No" side did not fail by 2 votes!

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