With a margin of more than 100,000 votes, Ireland has rejected the EU Reform Treaty drafted at Lisbon. José Manuel Barroso has said that the Irish government will now need to present its analysis as to why the vote failed and proposal as to how it can be changed so as to satisfy the Irish electorate. In the meantime, he has encouraged all other 26 EU states to continue to ratify the document, which will all be done through parliaments without popular votes.
A couple of thoughts by a guy who has no right to think his political thoughts ought to be read by anyone.
In the wake of the serious drubbing this treaty has received by a good turnout in the one country that has benefited most from EU membership (and considering a document that differed less than 10% was rejected in France and Holland) one wonders if a theoretical popular vote in places like Denmark and Portugal wouldn’t return similar results. What does Lisbon mean? Only lawyers can know. What does it offer? “Efficiency gains”. Why do we need it? “Expansion” issues (that couldn’t have been forseen?).
Lisbon is an example of pragmatically implemented democracy. It is only as a result of a queer Supreme Court ruling that Ireland required a referendum. Otherwise it would have been passed through the representative houses of each nation, including ours. But once it was put to a group of people they loudly declared “NO!”. Since that group of people represent under 1% of the EU and their economy represents just over 1% of the EU, this NEIN could well be ignored and squashed down. It is hardly democratic to ignore the Irish people. Yet it is hardly democratic to force the Irish agenda on the rest of the EU, if as we can only assume, they are happy with Lisbon. Democracy has to be implemented as a principle, as a value, as a noble thought put into action across the board- or it sinks to the level of farce. A squashed referendum on a small island off the west coast won’t cause many ripples now. But things like this have a way of introducing cracks that grow and grow in the civic. If we ignore these results, how could Belgium or Slovenia trust that they won’t be silenced someday in the future? If the results are heeded and we go back to the drawing board, how can Ireland dare dictate to Spain and Poland about how to run the EU? If we go for a compromise solution, how can we get the competitive edge that prompted the whole process in the first place?
Pragmatic democracy is an oxymoron. Issues that are big like this should be decided by a continent-wide plebiscite.
Here’s my real question and my real reason for voting no. Maybe someone can help me out by giving me the simple answer. The American Senate represents a bigger territory, a more diverse population and considerably larger economy on a very simple basis. Every state gets two representatives. This might seem like a bad deal for California, to some people’s minds, the sixth biggest economy on Earth. Why should it vote with the same weight as little Rhode Island? Yet it works beautifully because it leads to true integrated thinking. California is going to look after its own concerns- that is natural and can be taken for granted. But this flat, disproportionate representation encourages communal thinking and decision making since California can’t work to the service of itself at the detriment of others.
At base, this inverted system makes sense because it treats states like individuals in a small community. One person, one vote. It doesn’t matter if you are Kevin Hargaden and paid less than a thousand euros in income tax last year or you are Michael O’Leary and (presumably) paid a lot more. Each man gets one vote. Why can’t the highest level of European politics operate on the same level? The parliament can be purely representative. Ireland can get 1% of the seats there. But in the commission, we should have twenty-seven votes; one for each nation.
Can anyone enlighten me? Besides Germany throwing a hissy fit, why is this suggestion not on the table? It serves everyone best in the long run, it is the purest form of republican democracy I can think of and it would pass by plebiscite across the continent (except in UK, France and Germany).
Your Correspondent, calls for one of those bad trial thingies…