The power to sink the grand European Union Project. 3 million Irish voters, the only country in the EU voting on the Lisbon Treaty, a watered-down version of the European Constitution, voted on June 12th. A “No” vote, or a turnout of less than 40%, warned the “establishment” parties and social partners, would bury the Treaty and plunge the EU into crisis. A decision with huge consequences for Ireland and the EU, vote “Yes” the “establishment” said.
As in no way! So Dustin the Turkey, Ireland’s 2008 Eurovision Song Contest entry [see my earlier blog: http://nialloreilly.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!5772D98ABC777E23!2410.entry] really did catch the national pulse when he called the Lisbon Treaty [a watered down version of the European Constitution] “gobbledegook”, while our politicians and social partners have proved they are so completely out of touch with their people that it has gone beyond a joke……… It’s difficult to imagine a more out of touch political class.
No amount of back-pedaling by any politician representing the “establishment” parties, or government spin will get Ireland out of the mess they have placed the country in, and what a mess it is… Despite what the politicians will say, this vote against the Lisbon Treaty was as clear an anti-political establishment vote as there ever was. It was also a tipping point when the Irish electorate appreciated that all is not well with the economy and wanted to express this. Now we are all asking: if the Government is not able to understand what the people are afraid of in voting ‘no’, do we think they have the cop on, wherewithal, to fire up the country to face the huge economic challenges of the next few years? Will they make a mess of that too?
While the vote shows the self-confidence of the Irish electorate, and that democracy is alive and well in Ireland, Europe’s 480,000 million citizens may well ask how 800,000 Irish voters managed to wreck their grandiose European Union Project to have a President of Europe, lessen the power of the EU’s smaller member states, and have a stronger foreign and defense policy (which us neutral Irish saw as meaning further militarization), even if they weren’t allowed to hold referendums in their own countries. Voters in France and the Netherlands had already voted against earlier versions of the Lisbon Treaty.
Well fellow Europeans, our ‘no’ vote was not anti-Europe. Everyone in Ireland knows how much we have benefited from, and positively contributed to, our membership of the EU. Ireland’s loyalty to the EU is and never has been in question. We all recognize the importance of being at the centre of Europe, and its contribution to peace on our island.
However, the Lisbon Treaty document was incomprehensible. It was manufactured by the European Commission to prevent electorates around Europe from having a say in it, leaving it to the various parliaments to rubber stamp. In Ireland the Lisbon Treaty required a change to the Irish Constitution and under such circumstances a referendum must be held. We were the only electorate given the opportunity to read the document and make a considered judgement. And what we saw and heard was way too complicated. We just didn’t understand it. Even our Prime Minister admitted to not having read the full document. If any other EU member’s electorate had had a chance to read and try to understand the document they too would have rejected it. As such, given the circumstances, the obvious course to take is if you don’t know, vote ‘No’.
Looking back at the Lisbon Treaty debates from my China pedestal it was clear from the beginning of the campaign that the “establishment” parties were unable to truthfully, frankly, and intelligibly tell the people what was involved, instead telling them to place their in the politicians to tell the people what was good for them and just say Yes, which is tantamount to bullying, making it all the more remarkable that under such circumstances the electorate had the courage to vote ‘no’.
The reality is that the ‘no’ vote will not make the slightest bit of difference to the machinery of the EU as it operates today.
So, what next? The EU asks Ireland to vote again? Not exactly the best way to enhance the EU’s reputation for democratic responsibility, while voices in Ireland saying that the EU doesn’t understand the word “no” would only grow louder. And if the Prime Minister went down the same root he would be taking a serious political risk, if he lasts that long. Tis a Great Little Nation our Ireland. Indeed it is. Unlucky Friday 13th: The ‘Yes’ side should have listened to Dustin. The Lisbon Treaty is dead.
Gobbledegook: The language of turkeys and technocrats; unitelligible, jargon-laden, and nonsensical language with a sound that resembles language but has no meaning.