Despite being cautiously pro-European (mostly for geopolitical reasons, but that the way things are), I must say I’m kind of glad the Irish voted against the Lisbon treaty. The European Union has around half a billion citizens, and yet a mere 800.000 votes brought the Lisbon treaty to a grinding halt. And while one may argue that this is a case of a minority imposing its will on the majority, I think it atcually shows that democracy in the EU – for all its failings – is alive and well.
Ireland votes NO (source)
Think about it. The way things stand now, the EU is still nothing more than a association of nation states (although a very closely bound one). Member states have not relinquished
its their sovereignity, but have opted to excercise it via a common political entity which goes by the name of the EU. However, this does not – should not – preclude the right of every member state to excercise its sovereignity in full as it sees fit. And if the Irish constitution calls for a referendum of any and all matters of international association, then so be it.
Furthermore, the initial statemets of a number of European politicians – including the man who happens to be my prime minister – show that Irish “no” was a much needed reality-check which hopefully burst the bubble of “planned democracy” the EU and indeed most member states are infested with. It is one thing to know the result of a political proces in advance due to predictability of political players and factors, it is however quite another to devise ways and means which only keep the illusion of the decision-making process as being democratic, where in reality there is only one “acceptable” decision.
Most European leaders, shocked by the fact that the Celtic Tiger gave them the finger, said that “they expect the ratification process to go forward“. Janez Janša (presiding over the EU for 14 more days and counting) even said that the Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen will “explain the reasons for this outcome“.
Waddafuckyoumean go forward and will explain??? As far as I know the Irish government stated beforehand that there will be no re-run on the referendum, so the “no” is final. There’s nothing to go forward to and nothing to explain. Secondly: True, none of them forgot to add that the democratic decisions must be respected, but… There shouldn’t be any “buts” here. Are EU leaders trying to say that there are referendums that count and referendums that don’t? When France and The Netherladns rejected the European Constitution, everybody went “That’s it! Game over!” and now when Ireland said no, they’re trying to pretend it didn’t happen?
I realize that a lot of work has been put into the Lisbon treaty and I’m convinced that it is a good treaty and that it would benefit both the EU and member states including Ireland. It would also allow expansion of EU to include Balkan states and finally Turkey (both of which are a must). There are, however, no shortcuts. If this treaty went down badly in Ireland, imagine what the result of such a referendum would be in France or the UK, or any other “old” member state, whose people have long ago fallen out of love with the EU. Even worse, imagine that the Irish are somehow coerced into ratifying the treaty, which is followed by quick accession of Balkan states into the EU in the next ten years. How on Earth will you explain to the people that Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina must become members if you can’t even properly explain why a simple treaty is a good thing?
The rejection of the Lisbon treaty by Ireland is the best thing that could have happened to the EU at this moment. Not because it slowed the process of enlargment (that’s bad), but because it showed that a lot must be done on the home front as well. Perhaps starting to rebuild trust between the citizens of existing member states and their elected officials might be a good way to go about it. Once that is achieved, a lot more faith will be put into politicians’ abilities to tackle “big issues” as well.
Slovenia once was a member of a multinational super-state. As time progressed it was coerced more and more into decisions it didn’t want to take. And then one day it walked out. Perhaps unbeknownst to them, the EU leaders are making the very same mistake Yugoslav leaders did some 25+ years ago. Back then noone really believed that anyone would leave the federation. And today noone really belives anyone will leave the Union. History, however, has a nasty tendency to repeat itself at the hands of those who forget it.