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  • Ireland votes No to the Lisbon Treaty

    Posted by Helen on June 13th, 2008 (All posts by )

    This is big for us on this side of the Pond. Ireland is the only member state of the European Union that has had a referendum on the Constitution for Europe Mark II, known as the Lisbon Treaty. In the other states, governments and legislatures ratified with no reference to whether people want to have this far-reaching and complex document imposed on them. The reason for that is simple – just as two years ago in France and the Netherlands, so this year in Ireland, when the people are given a chance to vote on a further step towards the creation of an integrated European state, they tend to say no.

    We are still waiting for the official result but the government has conceded and the spin has begun. We shall hear a great deal about people not really voting against the Lisbon Treaty but on many other subjects. Whenever people vote the “wrong” way, they apparently do not intend to do so; they are merely misguided or have misunderstood the subject.

    The big question is what will happen now. According to EU rules every treaty has to be ratified by every signatory state. Clearly Ireland will not be able to ratify the Lisbon Treaty. Strictly speaking that should mean the end of it and the still incomplete ratifications, such as the British one (the Bill is still in the House of Lords, waiting for the Third Reading) should now stop. The EU may decide to make some cosmetic changes and insist that Ireland vote again. This has been done before but not recently, as it is becoming a high-risk game. Or there may be a Declaration that gives Ireland a special status at the level of the Nice Treaty that the country finally agreed to after two referendums, the second one conducted in a very dodgy fashion. That, one must assume, is legally challengeable as it breaks the EU’s own rules. So we wait.

    Pleased though we are, it has to be said that this is not the end, or the beginning of the end or, even, the end of the beginning (to misquote Churchill’s famous pronouncement). There is a long way to go before we can restore any semblance of democracy to European countries.

     

    22 Responses to “Ireland votes No to the Lisbon Treaty”

    1. Jonathan Says:

      However difficult the road ahead may be, this is very good news.

    2. Shannon Love Says:

      Unfortunately, the EU referendum has the same advantage as communist insurgents in the cold war i.e. they only have to win once. They can just keep coming back every few years until they win by statistical fluctuation. All votes like this should preclude reconsideration within a fixed time frame of 5 to 10 years or longer. Otherwise, ratification is inevitable.

    3. Jonathan Says:

      I don’t think it’s a close parallel. Public opinion must be carried if the EU venture is to succeed; otherwise EU proponents would probably avoid referenda altogether. A lost referendum makes further referenda difficult, and multiple lost referenda increase negative publicity exponentially (referenda results, unlike public-opinion polls, are difficult to hide or explain away). I think that this is what Helen meant by her “high-risk game” remark.

    4. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Helen,

      the the ‘no’ campaign was about a host of other issues, such as abortion, tax policy etc, etc. None of these had anything to do with the treaty, but the Irish voters were told that, for example, the European Union would force Ireland to legalize abortion.

      Anyhow, European countries are perfectly xemocratic, thank you very much, and it mainly were the opponents of integration who prevented democratization of the European Union.

      Btw, I would be interested to know why Americans would root for a defat of the treaty?

    5. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Democratic, not ‘xemocratic’, of course.

    6. Ralf Goergens Says:

      I should add that I don’t care all that much about the trety on its own terms, but seeing people who have no stake in the issue wishing for such an outcome makes me kind of wish that the Irish would have voted for the treaty. No offense.

    7. Vince P Says:

      The Treaty is an abomination for Democracy.

      It destroys Democracy on both ends… it ends soverignity of the individual countries and on the other side, the decision making is done by unaccountable agencies.

      Also in areas like “Human Rights” and Islamification, the EU’s imposition of the Far Left’s speech-killing edicts is a violation of Free Speech.

    8. Helen Says:

      Ralf,

      I am sorry but I don’t buy this argument of the no campaign being about a host of issues while the yes campaign was a pristine analysis about the Lisbon Treaty. I happen to know a number of the no campaigners, and believe me they had read the treaty and understood very clearly what it was about. People always vote for a number of reasons and as the Lisbon Treaty is tightening EU control over various aspects of politics and legislation, there were many issues around. To argue that anyone who votes on the other side from you cannot understand what they are voting for or against is completely ridiculous. What about the people who voted yes? Did they understand what they were voting about? Or, maybe, people simply do not understand and decisions must be left to the political elite? The EU certainly thinks so.

    9. Ralf Goergens Says:

      To argue that anyone who votes on the other side from you cannot understand what they are voting for or against is completely ridiculous.

      I am not saying that they didn’t understand, but considering the low voter participation, people who voted about other issues than the treaty itself were a considerable factor.

      as the Lisbon Treaty is tightening EU control over various aspects of politics and legislation

      But it also would have given the EU parliament as well as national parliaments more say in decisons.

    10. robbie from dublin Says:

      1. ONe of the provisions of the lisbon treaty is that EU laws and directives will override the laws and constitutions of the individual member states.

      2. The last remaining shards of soveriegnty would be transferred from the nation states to Brussles.

      3. The main power agency, so to speak, in the EU is the Commission. This is a non elected body. It is a non accountable body and it is a non removable body.

      4. The EU was fine when it was a trading bloc comprised of soveriegn nation states. It has become a monster which wants to be a federal superstate.

      5. The EU as it stands today is not only non democratic, it is anti democratic.

    11. Helen Says:

      Firstly, I need to apologize for the lack of decent punctuation in my comment. It was written late at night after a tiring day. So, please put in commas, full stops, colons etc.

      Secondly, the turn-out was over 51 per cent, which may be low in general terms but, compared to many other elections where the result is not doubted for one moment and the winning side is not accused of voting on the wrong issues, it is not bad.

      Thirdly, national parliaments should be the legislators in their own countries and the notion that the EU grandly gives them powers in this treaty is nonsensical. Besides, if you read the relevant articles, you will find that those “powers” consist of being able to complain if some legislation that they cannot throw out is against the principle of subisidiarity. The Commission can turn round and say that we have examined your complaints (and it cannot be just one parliament) and decided that it is wrong. Tough. What are you going to do now?

      Fourthly, to say that the member states are democratic is again nonsensical, since their elected and constitutionally set up legislatures do not legislate in something like 70 – 80 per cent of the cases. The proportion is likely to go up with Lisbon. The legislation happens in a way that cannot be tracked and is not accountable to anybody. (Should Chicagoboyz readers be so unwise as to wish to find out the process, I can do a pice on it.)

      Fifthly, the original EEC was not a free-trading area but, at best, a customs union. The integrated political structure was envisaged from the very beginning. The Lisbon Treaty is merely the latest and, so far, the biggest step in that direction.

    12. Ginny Says:

      Helen,

      I don’t understand the EU and appreciate the clarity of your descriptions.

      What countries have chosen to join the EU by a popular vote? (I haven’t been following, but you seem to keep winning the vote, which is then considered “not what people meant.”)

      Have all these countries at some point voted to “opt in” and now the terms of that “opting” are what is being argued? Or have they not reached that first step?

      I keep getting the feeling that the Europeans think they can arrive at a stasis where the needs of each will be the needs of all. I’ve got to say that over 220 years ago, we saw some problems with that. Is there Federalist Papers aimed at convincing Europeans of the EU’s new (and braver and smarter) understanding of human nature? Do they recognize the inevitability of factions or do they just assume that in some Utopia there won’t be any?

      Does the EU see itself as setting ground rules for a long-term game which will be played under many different conditions and many different players – or do they see it as a more intrusive and more static ordering of society?

    13. Helen Says:

      That’s a lot of very difficult questions Ginny and I doubt if I can reply to them all in a comment. The problem with the EU is that it has been evolving through various treaties agreed to by the governments, every wider legislation and decisions by the European Court of Justice (you will recognize the last problem). At no time was there a document, which could be analyzed by something like The Federalist Papers because it was intended to be for the ages, though, obviously with changes.

      The EEC that was formed in 1957 and which Britain, Ireland and Denmark joined in 1972 has been long ago superseded by what was first known as the EC and now the EU. The changes, though always in keeping with the rather vaguely phrased aim of “ever closer union” have been complicated and rarely discussed with the electorate.

      Well, you can see why. The wretched people keep voting the wrong way. Denmark over Maastricht voted no and was made to vote again after some opt-outs were allowed, which Rassmussen in his pursuit of the first presidency of the European Council, now wants to get rid of. France carried Maastricht but only just, with a large majority in favour of the treaty melting away as people read it and realized what was in it.

      Over the Treaty of Nice Ireland voted no and was made to vote again. The Constitution Mark I was rejected by the French and the Dutch, so when it was brought back as the Lisbon Treaty, no referendums for them or anybody else except Ireland, who duly voted no. One begins to wonder which bit of that word do the euro-elite not understand. The countries that are supposed to have ratified it did so without a referendum or any kind of a national vote. In Britain all parties promised a referendum on Const. Mark I but the government has refused to honour its promise over Const. Mark II.

      As to people entering this organization, most have referendums – the ones in Eastern Europe had a relatively low turn-out but they did vote yes. It does make you wonder what they thought they were voting for as they keep complaining and saying that this is not the EU they wanted. Britain had one referendum two years after Parliament passed the European Communities Act with a tiny majority, about staying in the Common Market. Norway has voted no, thanks twice. Can’t remember the others but can look them up. It is all so muddled.

      To end this long comment, what has happened in the last few years is that people in various member states have realized what has been done and what changes have been made towards a centralized, unified European state, whose legislation trumps national each time (and has done ever since Ireland joined, by the way, Robbie – check out the Accession Treaty and the legislation that made it part of Irish law) and they don’t like it. The way Lisbon is being pushed through is causing a great deal of discontent. (Which I am very pleased about.)

    14. Ginny Says:

      thanks, Helen. That helps.

    15. Vince P Says:

      I read somewhere that they way they wrote the Lisbon Treaty was designed so that no one would be able to understand it.

      They did this by not writing it in a prose style (I’m not a lawyer , I have no idea what terms to use).

      IE: they did not write it like this : “Europeans shall have the right to become dhimmis”

      They wrote it like this: “DIRECTIVE 666.ANTICHRIST, strike-out third word “live” of EuroSuicide Treaty 000 Section A Title 93 Chapter 93173085 Directive 9256290729852908598 Item 947290472907692789 and add in position 9479020 the word “submit””

    16. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Helen,

      I’ll write in more deatile later, but if we still acted as if “national parliaments should be the legislators in their own countries”, Europe would be a wretched mass of countries with protectinist trade policies. Without the European Union, Europeans would have much less indivisula and economic freedom.

    17. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Ginny:

      I keep getting the feeling that the Europeans think they can arrive at a stasis where the needs of each will be the needs of all. I’ve got to say that over 220 years ago, we saw some problems with that. Is there Federalist Papers aimed at convincing Europeans of the EU’s new (and braver and smarter) understanding of human nature? Do they recognize the inevitability of factions or do they just assume that in some Utopia there won’t be any?

      The European Union is not about some kind of utopia, it is about individual economic freedom. The EU is far more pro-market than the vast majority of the member states. The economic liberalization we had over here, in sectors like telecommunication, power generation, transportation and so on was forced through by Brussels (with the exception of the UK). This happened against the fierce resistance of various interest groups, such as farmers, fishermen, coal miners, (former) public servants who used to staff the bureaucracies who supervised formerly state-owned or state controlled industries that are now liberalized, trade unions etc, etc..

      To manage this, national sovereignty had to be superseded to some extent, which certainly aroused substantial resentment. In fact, there are many Eurosceptics who argue that national electorates should be free to vote in protectionist policies, and those same Eurosceptics mainly are opposed to the EU because it won’t let them do that. The far left also is opposed to the EU, for they consider it to be an American conspiracy to force free-market capitalism on Europe. If we held referendums on the question of free trade versus protectionism, free trade would be defeated by much larger margins than the Lisbon treaty.

      So, I for my own part don’t love the EU, but think that is the lesser evil, as I wrote here some years ago:

      The European Union as a Third-Best Solution

    18. Ralf Goergens Says:

      ‘Detail’, not ‘detail’, of course.

    19. Vince P Says:

      I was correct in my statement that they deliberately wrote the treeaty as to be incomprehensible:

      http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/06/why_irish_voters_rejected_the.html

      There are many more quotes than these at the link.

      Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said that it did not matter if people had not read the treaty (he had not read it either, he admitted) and did not understand it because they should trust their elected leaders.

      German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “Naturally [the Lisbon Treaty] is still far from the clarity of our constitution on how powers are really delineated.”

      Former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing said: “The difference between the original Constitution and the present Lisbon Treaty is one of approach, rather than content … the proposals in the original constitutional treaty are practically unchanged. They have simply been dispersed through old treaties in the form of amendments. Why this subtle change? Above all, to head off any threat of referenda by avoiding any form of constitutional vocabulary … But lift the lid and look in the toolbox: all the same innovative and effective tools are there, just as they were carefully crafted by the European Convention.”

      D’Estaing said: “Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly … All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way.”

      D’Estaing said: The approach “is to keep a part of the innovations of the constitutional treaty and to split them into several texts in order to make them less visible. The most innovative dispositions would pass as simple amendments of the Maastricht and Nice treaties. The technical improvements would be gathered in an innocuous treaty. The whole would be addressed to Parliaments, which would decide with separate votes. The public opinion would therefore unknowingly adopt the dispositions that it would not accept if presented directly.”

      Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said: “The substance of what was agreed in 2004 has been retained. Really, what is gone is the term ‘constitution’.”

      Juncker said: Fears connected with the treaty “most often stem from the fact that we use a language incomprehensible for ordinary people.”

      Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht said: “The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable; the aim of this [Lisbon] treaty is to be unreadable… The Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear. It is a success.”

      A leaked February memo from the British Embassy in Dublin, which summarized a briefing about Irish government thinking over the referendum, reported that Irish diplomats described Sarkozy as “completely unpredictable”. The memo emphasized that the campaign would not focus on the detail of the treaty because it was “largely incomprehensible to the lay reader.” The Irish government wanted to hold the referendum in October 2008, but decided on an earlier date because of “the risk of unhelpful developments during the [six-month rotating] French Presidency [of the EU, which begins on July 1] – particularly related to EU defense – were just too great” and might alienate Irish voters.

      Does anyone else get the “pure evil” vibe from this project?

    20. Brock Says:

      Vince P, thank you for the quotes.

      I find it amusing that Europeans claim to be more sophisticated than Americans. No US politician would be caught uttering such blatant honesties! :)

      Yes, I’m getting the “pure evil” vibe. I’m not opposed to a democratic federal Eurostate (in theory), but this is not the way to go about it.

    21. Tore Toivicco Says:

      Message to irish people about Lisbon treaty:

      Lisbon treaty seems to be totally strange and deleting democracy or human rights?

      http://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2008/01/lisbon-treaty-c.html

      I’ve read an article which states that police gets rights to shoot people in some situations.

      These kind of things are totalitarian politics.

      It also propably stops right to go on strike.

      http://www.no2lisbon.ie/en/press-centre/entry/160

      And all this in whole Europe…

      It is sad to notice that all other countries have accepted this treaty, but many governments have not even given people chance to vote about it.

      Irish government has given you this right,…anyway it is really strange that Ireland maybe votes again about this, and only after few months?(or 2009?)

      EU elite needs this YES, and they have ordered new voting?

      If this is true it shows how horrible secret elite rules EU, and what can we expect from the future?
      Lisbon treaty is basicly giving ‘Gestapo’-laws to EU-government, if needed?

      And they seem to need those laws fast?

      Vote NO, and save the world?

      F.ex. in many european countries media and politicians has almost 100% ignored discussions about this subject, and people are not even aware about whole thing?

      It is also good to remember that USA has now similar ‘mertial laws’ there, after 11th september 2001… ?

      EU security officials decide about all security matters of whole EU?

      Also there is some things which makes it very difficult for normal people to complain and get things corrected if there is wrongful handlings?

      I hope I am wrong, but this whole thing , and how it has been handled seems really wrong? And it is not a democratic way to handle politics.?

      http://www.europeanfoundation.org/docs/Treaty%20of%20Lisbon.htm

      Also small countries lose power
      because there will be less EP-representatives?

      ps.

      I am harassed so much all the time that this writing may include errors.

      -Tore Toivicco

    22. Anonymous Says:

      Message to irish people about Lisbon treaty:

      Lisbon treaty seems to be totally strange and deleting democracy or human rights?

      http://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2008/01/lisbon-treaty-c.html

      I’ve read an article which states that police gets rights to shoot people in some situations.

      These kind of things are totalitarian politics.

      It also propably stops right to go on strike.

      http://www.no2lisbon.ie/en/press-centre/entry/160

      And all this in whole Europe…

      It is sad to notice that all other countries have accepted this treaty, but many governments have not even given people chance to vote about it.

      Irish government has given you this right,…anyway it is really strange that Ireland maybe votes again about this, and only after few months?(or 2009?)

      EU elite needs this YES, and they have ordered new voting?

      If this is true it shows how horrible secret elite rules EU, and what can we expect from the future?
      Lisbon treaty is basicly giving ‘Gestapo’-laws to EU-government, if needed?

      And they seem to need those laws fast?

      Vote NO, and save the world?

      F.ex. in many european countries media and politicians has almost 100% ignored discussions about this subject, and people are not even aware about whole thing?

      It is also good to remember that USA has now similar ‘martial laws’ there, after 11th september 2001… ?

      EU security officials decide about all security matters of whole EU?

      Also there is some things which makes it very difficult for normal people to complain and get things corrected if there is wrongful handlings?

      I hope I am wrong, but this whole thing , and how it has been handled seems really wrong? And it is not a democratic way to handle politics.?

      http://www.europeanfoundation.org/docs/Treaty%20of%20Lisbon.htm

      ps.

      I am harassed so much all the time that this writing may include errors.

      -Tore Toivicco

      Now also EU web-censorship?

      http://www.masternewmedia.org/europe-under-internet-censorship-threat-new-eu-telecom-package/

      Give us back our democracy!