Is it down to the lake I fear..

The assortment of groupings within the ‘No’ camp should beware thinking that yesterday’s result in the Lisbon Treaty referendum is evidence of actual support for any of their differing agendas. As well as a leader column, “Not so much a rainbow alliance as a horde of Goths at the gates of Rome”, The Guardian has two comment pieces from supporters of the defeated ‘Yes’ position. First up, Colm Tóibín – “The treaty was a godsend to every crank in Ireland, on the left and the right.”

The defeat of the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland was not a single mutiny on the part of the Irish moral majority. It was 20 different mutinies. For example, all areas which depend on fishing voted heavily against the treaty. Working class areas in the cities voted against it. Right-wing Catholics voted against it. Old-fashioned Irish nationalists voted against it. Rural people voted against. Certain rich business interests voted against. But also, some in Ireland, like their French and Dutch counterparts who voted against the European constitution, have deep and serious concerns about the democratic deficit in Europe.

And Fintan O’Toole, who also identifies the ‘No’ campaign’s “extensive menu of anxieties”, points to the ‘Yes’ campaign’s poor strategy

The implicit message was: “This document is complicated and virtually unreadable but, trust us, there’s nothing bad in it.” This strategy betrayed an astonishing ignorance of the way the Irish, in common with most Europeans, currently regard their political class. Trust isn’t the most obvious feature of the relationship between governments and the governed. In the Irish case, this lack of faith was greatly enhanced by the scandal over his personal finances that brought down the long-serving taoiseach, Bertie Ahern.

Fintan O’Toole continues

The biggest problem for the EU now is that what made the no campaign so effective is also what makes it so hard to deal with. In 2001, when Irish voters rejected the Nice treaty, it was possible to discern a relatively coherent message – mostly that voters were concerned about neutrality. Those concerns could be addressed by adding a declaration to the treaty and changing the Irish constitution. Nice was put to the people again and passed comfortably.

This time things are different. In the first Nice referendum, the turnout was so low that the government could just about get away with asking people to vote again. The turnout for Lisbon was much higher, so repeating the exercise would simply feed the perception that voters are being bullied. In any event, a second vote would have to be on an altered proposition. But to remove most of the things people objected to in the treaty, they would have to have been there in the first place. The treaty’s doom, in other words, is probably sealed by the fact that it’s not actually as bad as many Irish voters think it is.

Also in the Irish Times, the EU political reaction [no subs req]

The reaction from the EU’s leading politicians was restrained. The German government promised yesterday to give Mr Cowen time to reflect, but senior sources warned that it saw little alternative to a second referendum.

“We would have wished for another solution but as good Europeans we have to take the situation as it is,” said German chancellor Angela Merkel after a conversation with the Taoiseach yesterday.

“Ratification will continue and either Ireland votes again or we try to come up with a new text, something on which 27 countries will simply not be able to agree,” said a senior government source.

In a joint statement last night, Dr Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy said: “With all due respect, we take note of the democratic decision of the Irish citizens, even if we regret it.”

Sources close to Mr Sarkozy said there were only two solutions: for the Irish to vote again, or for an as yet undefined legal mechanism to bind Ireland to EU institutions if Ireland does not ratify the treaty.

While Dr Merkel was conciliatory, her coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), were more blunt. The party’s foreign minister, Frank Walter Steinmeier, said the result was a “severe setback” while a party colleague called it a “catastrophe”.

“With all respect for the Irish vote, we cannot allow the huge majority of Europe to be duped by a minority of a minority of a minority,” said Axel Schäfer, SPD leader in the Bundestag committee on EU affairs.

“We are incredibly disappointed. We think it is a real cheek that the country that has benefited most from the EU should do this. There is no other Europe than this treaty.”

More EU reaction here.

Meanwhile, again in the Irish Times, former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald is also critical of the ‘Yes’ campaign [subs req]. And he points to a wider problem.

This referendum has demonstrated a huge disconnect between an important element of the electorate and the political parties for which they vote. To anyone who values the representative democratic system, this is deeply disturbing, for it clearly reflects a potentially corrosive lack of trust in the political structures of our State.

The preference shown in this referendum for the views of populist elements outside the normal democratic process argues a deep need for political reform. Institutional reform is always difficult, because it is strenuously resisted by the powerful interests who benefit from the status quo. But when the reform needed relates to the political system itself, it becomes almost impossible to achieve.

I do not have the impression that our politicians reflect much, if at all, on the recent loss of confidence in and respect for them. This insensitivity reflects the fact that, in a political system as devoted to clientelism as is ours, elected representatives tend to judge their public standing by the narrow criterion of whether individuals continue to come to them for assistance with personal problems arising from their often fraught dealings with the bureaucratic system.

But while this process continues, both those who seek mediation by their politicians and – perhaps more so – the much greater number who do not, may be losing trust in the integrity of those whom they elect to office.

, , , , ,

  • joeCanuck

    may be losing trust in the integrity of those whom they elect to office.

    Therein lies the problem and it isn’t confined to Ireland.
    In the case of Ireland, it isn’t helped when one of the formerly most respected politicians in his generation can stand up in Court and say “I won it on a horse, yer honour”.

  • Greenflag

    joecanuck ,

    ‘Therein lies the problem and it isn’t confined to Ireland.’

    True jc but in countries like the USA and Canada you are not likely to bump into your President/Taoiseach down in Fagan’s pub of a Saturday or in the stand at Old Trafford cheering on Manchester Utd . Ireland’s political community/class is so close to the people in one sense and yet at times is so far away it might as well be on the moon !

  • Greenflag

    Fitzer , Toibin and O’Toole are all correct in their analysis . But Cowen is left with the mess to wipe up.

    Given that the referendum was rejected by 26.5% of the total electorate (based on 53% of a 50% turnout) then it’s clear what Cowen needs to do . Embarassing though it will be he needs to put his political neck on the line by going back to the electorate after the summer . If the referendum is lost a second time he should resign and call a general election. He needs to listen to the advice of German Kanzler Merkel.

    Probably half of the NO vote was a genuine up yours to the EU from the people who have been left behind in the huge social and economic changes of the past 25 years . The other half of the NO vote was probably the result of ‘fear’ mongering built on by the machinations of a very shady extreme right wing bunch who were never heard of before. This latter group need to be ‘fully ‘ exposed to the Irish electorate for the interests of who and what they truly represent .

    Do we really want to be the ‘Unionists’ of the EU ? Condemned to the fringes of the continent as a backward looking shower of ungrateful whingers ?
    The EU can do very well without Ireland . The reverse is not the case .

  • Kon Fucious D

    the one thing that strikes me is the unrepentant arrogance displayed by the Yes side, ever since the result was announced.

    The No side didn’t have to work very hard for a result. The evidence had been there all along, albeit simmering under the surface, as in the fishermen’s dispute.

    As for increased taxation, that was already there too in the form of household service charges introduced at the behest of the EU with plenty more to follow. People with mortgages doubly and triply hit, while our political and bureaucratic elite lived the dolce vita on EU salaries junkets and expenses.

    As for EU structural funds, these were squandered away by incompetent and corrupt bureaucrats and politicians. We still have one of the worst public transport infrastructures north of the Sahara.

    The publics services and assets that generations of PAYE workers paid for and dedicated their lives to pass on to future
    generations –signed away and auctioned off at the behest of the Brussels bureaucrats to offshore shelf companies and shady entrepreneurs and facilitated by the likes McCreevey, Harney and Bertie Bagman.

    The appalling treatment of An Post and Aer Lingus workers where the fallout from Brussels continues to reverberate in the daily working conditions and the uncertainty over their jobs as State sector employees.

    The provisions of the Lisbon treaty simply represented the poisonous icing on the rotting cake.

  • EWI

    it’s not actually as bad as many Irish voters think it is.

    Yeah, that’ll make us vote for it.

    [play the ball – edited moderator]

    Now, let’s talk about Shamatas.

  • George

    Greenflag,
    Given that the referendum was rejected by 26.5% of the total electorate (based on 53% of a 50% turnout)

    Your attitude to democracy is very disturbing. Dismissing those who decided to exercise their vote and counting in those who decided not to simply because your side lost.

    You are willing to undermine one of the foundations of our entire democratic system, respect for the electorate’s decision in a free vote, merely because you don’t like the result.

    And we are supposed to, as O’Toole says, “trust” people with these severely anti-democatric, quasi euro-imperial tendencies?

  • toby

    As has been pointed out before, in Ireland the legislature has become an extension of the executive.

    Ministers on election become the messengers of their department (or party leadership) to get legislation passed rather than representing the wishes of the electorate into the bureaucracy.

    Members become not the representives of the whole electorate but of the clients who approach them to intervene with the bureaucracy on their behalf. We elect one hundred and eighty or so ombudsmen who are otherwise lobby fodder for passing legislation desired by the executive.

    The Parliament has some weak oversight functions, but these do not amount to much. Members compete for minor jobs like “Ministers of State” in the executive or for Chairmanship of the weak committees.

    It is clear that over time this has led to an increasing dimunition of respect for public representatives .. something their inflated salaries do little to diminish.

  • BfB

    ‘You are willing to undermine one of the foundations of our entire democratic system, respect for the electorate’s decision in a free vote, merely because you don’t like the result.’…Well said..

    These eurocrat socialists have no respect for the electorates decision. Astounding that all these Slugger communists are scoffing at the result as misguided and ‘the poor waifs dinna understand!!’
    Make ’em vote agin…

    Socialist bastards can’t say the people have spoken…because in their world the people have no voice……run as fast as you can in the opposite direction of these no good communist bastards!!

  • Peat Blog

    Do we really want to be the ‘Unionists’ of the EU? Condemned to the fringes of the continent as a backward looking shower of ungrateful whingers?

    Greenflag: do you not mean the Shinners of Europe given their opposition?

  • kensei

    The implicit message was: “This document is complicated and virtually unreadable but, trust us, there’s nothing bad in it.” This strategy betrayed an astonishing ignorance of the way the Irish, in common with most Europeans, currently regard their political class.

    I think this is a fallacy, and a dangerous one at that: that the problem was with the messenger and not the message. Popular governments may get the benefit of the doubt on issues of trust, but even they rarely get a pass on substantive issues without at least a narrative and a rationale, if not wholly substantive argument.

    The Yes vote never made a case. If they had a good case, probably even an okay case, they would have got through. If you are attempting to shape’s Europe’s future and have to worry about trust in politicians then maybe your asking the wrong question.

    Again – France, Netherlands, Ireland. These are generally pro-European nations. If you’re in trouble there, perhaps you need a rethink.

  • Greenflag

    george ,

    ‘Your attitude to democracy is very disturbing’

    Is it . I think the jury is still out on SF’s committment to democracy -early days yet in NI . As for this Libertas crowd of ultra right wing nut jobs I’m sure we’d all like to know who their paymaster’s are .

    Cowen , Kenny , Gilmore and Gormley despite their their ‘failure’ to bring out the YES vote are a much better bet for this country’s future than SF , a bunch of backward looking ultra right wing catholic nutters , and a shady bunch of neo cons fattened on the back of misery and death in the Middle East.

    The prospect of any combination of the latter getting their hands on political power in Ireland is what would be truly disturbing .

    Cowen should go for another referendum . It’s the only way to restore this country’s reputation in Europe among our partners in social and economic progress over the past 35 years . If the referendum is defeated let him call an election and hand over power to those who would prefer to see Ireland -isolated and a bastion of ignorance and poverty on the outermost fringe of the continent !

  • Greenflag

    Kensei ,

    ‘the problem was with the messenger and not the message.

    Correct . Cowen needs to go to the country to reestablish his and his party’s credentials on his own terms and a second referendum on Lisbon ought to be held on the same day.

    If he wins the election and loses the referendum then Ireland might as well leave the EU and apply for ‘commonwealth ‘membership of the USA a la Puerto Rico . If it’s true that we are closer to Boston than Berlin then perhaps we ought to take our own advice.

  • Greenflag

    Peat Bog .

    ‘ do you not mean the Shinners of Europe given their opposition? ‘

    No I mean the Unionists. Below is a brief of the Newsletter’s report on ‘Unionist ‘ joy at the Irish shooting themselves in the foot /head .

    excerpt -Newsletter,

    ‘UNIONISTS last night roundly welcomed the Republic’s No vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum.

    Ulster’s new Environment Minister, Sammy Wilson, said he was delighted the South had decisively spurned it by 53.4 per cent to 46.6 per cent.

    The DUP MLA said: “I have no doubt that if the people of the UK were given the opportunity to have our say, it would have voted as the Republic has.

    “This result now sends a very strong message to leaders in Europe that the European constitution is dead.”’

    So look around you Peat Bog at those who gloat be they SF or the DUP . When the people who represent 40 years of stagnant politics and economic backwardness in Northern Ireland are delighted with the result then ask yourself if given a choice whether Ireland was to be governed by an SF /DUP coalition, or a Franco/ German one and the decision had to be based on the actual track record and results achieved over the past 40 years who would you pick to ‘rule ‘ your country .

    I’ll confess I’d have to think about it for 2 milliseconds before I’d pick ole Fritz and Henri over the Paisley/Adams /McGuinness and Robinson road to nowhere .

    Future performance is mostly determined by past performance (excluding the stock market of course :). Over the past 50 years Fritz and Henri have not only buried their ancient enmities but they have created a huge zone of peace and prosperity and democracy in Europe .

    What have SF/DUP ever created ?

    Zero . Even that which have after 40 years agreed to had to be imposed on them by the UK/USA and the Republic.

    Left to their own devices both showers would still be knuckle dragging through the peat bogs of Tyrone 🙁

  • George

    Greenflag,
    ,i>Is it . I think the jury is still out on SF’s committment to democracy -early days yet in NI . As for this Libertas crowd of ultra right wing nut jobs I’m sure we’d all like to know who their paymaster’s are .

    I am not SF, I am not Libertas and I am not an ultra-right-wing nut job. I am in the pay of nobody.

    You, on the other hand, seem to have no problem with undermining democracy.

  • Greenflag

    george ,

    ‘I am not SF, I am not Libertas and I am not an ultra-right-wing nut job. I am in the pay of nobody. ‘

    Did I say YOU were ?

    I’m sure there are some genuine NO voters out there who genuinely believe that Europe will put it’s future development on hold so that the ‘slow learners ‘ can catch up . That’s not the way the world works outside Northern Ireland . Ireland will very soon feel the chill wind of a self imposed isolation. Do people seriously believe that 26 countries in the EU representing 490 million people will not find a way around this Irish made pothole ?

  • Dave

    Oh dear…. your argument amounts to no more than ‘Do as you’re told to do and not as you want because if you don’t put your master’s will before your own will, your master will be very cruel to you.’

    The problem you have there, Greenie, is that quisling appeasers are in the minority. 😉

  • Dave

    “I think this is a fallacy, and a dangerous one at that: that the problem was with the messenger and not the message.” – Kensei

    That’s a very sharp observation. David McWilliams had another good piece of propaganda in the SBP last week: he simply said it didn’t matter if Ireland voted yes or no. The implication being that it didn’t matter if we renounced more of our national sovereignty; things would remain the same whether we were a state rather than a nation state or just a region of the emerging nation state of Europe. Or rather, I cynically suspected him of planting that propaganda until he jumped to the winning side in today’s edition of the SBP:

    “Some might argue that, in a global economy, there is little small countries can do, but this is not just nonsense, it is a cop-out. More to the point, connectivity is the key. If there is something good going on in one country, the news will spread like wildfire, sucking in the curious with their talents, capital and networks.

    So rather than diminish a national rejuvenation project, the internet and globalisation will reinforce its strength. And most significantly, after last week’s EU carry-on, ‘active patriotism’ is precisely the opposite of what the Lisbon Treaty was trying to do: rather than give away more powers to some remote body, the solution is in our hands.

    We know best what we have to do and we can, as a nation, sort it out.”

    http://tiny.cc/TqLaR

  • Wilde Rover

    Greenflag,

    “The other half of the NO vote was probably the result of ‘fear’ mongering”

    “Do we really want to be the ‘Unionists’ of the EU ? Condemned to the fringes of the continent as a backward looking shower of ungrateful whingers ?”

    “Ireland -isolated and a bastion of ignorance and poverty on the outermost fringe of the continent !”

    “Ireland will very soon feel the chill wind of a self imposed isolation.”

    So how much of the Yes vote was the result of fear mongering?

    “if given a choice whether Ireland was to be governed by an SF /DUP coalition, or a Franco/ German one and the decision had to be based on the actual track record and results achieved over the past 40 years who would you pick to ‘rule ‘ your country .”

    So what you really want is for Ireland to be a colony of some future Franco-German Empire?

    “Do people seriously believe that 26 countries in the EU representing 490 million people will not find a way around this Irish made pothole ?”

    And by that you mean, of course, 26 parliaments too afraid to ask their own people.

  • Henry94

    greenflag

    If Cowen simply goes for another referendum he will lose by a bigger margin.

    The EU is heading in a political direction that the people of Europe do not support. In Ireland we were lucky enough to be allowed to express that by a referendum. But it will find expression elsewhere too.

    I’m not sure why the political leaders of Europe believe they can put the fundamental laws of politics into abeyance but they do. More fool them.

    It doesn’t matter that the No side disagree about almost everything else. They agree that the right to make major political decisions belongs to the Irish people. Sinn Fein will make political gains from all this. So will Liberatas should they choose to get involved.

    All over Europe the sleeping dog of nationalism is being kicked awake by the eurofanatics. The fools, the fools, the fools.

  • Peat Blog

    Greeflag,

    I have no doubts that the Unionists in the north would have also voted against, probably because they see it all as a Papish plot. Ironic, considering that right wing Catholics voted aganist as they saw the Treaty potentially undermining their views on abortion and euthenasia etc. (which the Unionists prbably share).

    That said the EU is a terribly corrupt and undemocratic place remote from the people (bit like Stormont then). You only have to read Private Eye to see how they treat inernal dissenters…

    The Czechs have expressed their doubts on following through with the Treay process and I would expect several other countries to develop itchy feet also. Not because of the coctail of social issues that some in the barmy southern coalition campaigned on but simply on the central points of soveringty and democratic accountability.

  • DC

    The need for this new Treaty arises as a result of hasty widening of the Union rather than a more organic approach that could have provided more time to reconfigure institutional change adequately, there is really not that much more ‘deepening’ going on. Instead, tweaks to making the EU operate more efficiently after enlarging. That was the original gripe with France and Holland, but the Treaty was just to refine what is currently in place. The EU needs to go back and sort out its own propaganda, it has been trying to do this, clearly not enough of it.

    What we have here today is an EU suffering as a victim of its own success in that it took on more member states than it had the institutions to deal with. People seem to forget that non-democratic states have moved away from former dictatorships and overhauled national systems to join the EU under its acquis criteria and equality measures. So I can see why enlargement happened, rather than stall in the face of change. It is Ireland that has stalled because it is confused and not certain in an unsure economic environment too.

    It is difficult to assuage the demands of advocates of popular sovereignty whenever the EU operates with pooled sovereighty with a combination of national leaders setting agendas, commissioners working to attain those goals and an EU parliament acting as the democratic brake or part-reformer of it all. Roughly speaking anyway.

    There are a few comments talking about rejuvenated nationalism, but that will likely have to be mirrored or set against other national projects too, which is hanging separately and not together. In the ignorance of all this the EU trys to work hard, perhaps some would say negatively, to protect trade in favour of its own people needing food in their mouths for less.

  • Sean Fear

    Cowen should go for another referendum . It’s the only way to restore this country’s reputation in Europe among our partners in social and economic progress over the past 35 years .”

    Ireland’s reputation amongst Europe’s peoples (as opposed to its political class) has been enhanced by this vote.

    As to the nature of the No Campaigners, people from all over the political spectrum can object to the destruction of their country’s independence.

  • Greenflag

    henry 94,

    ‘If Cowen simply goes for another referendum he will lose by a bigger margin.’

    Fine by me . Then at least we’ll know where we stand i.e out of the EU and not the neither one thing nor another like our anti EU Unionist neighbours in NI who spend their political energies slobbering all over Her Majesty from the front while being screwed from the rear by HMG 🙁

    ‘All over Europe the sleeping dog of nationalism is being kicked awake by the eurofanatics’

    Complete and utter shite . With Slovenia in the EU and Croatia , and other Balkan States lining up to join as well as the Ukraine the reverse is the case . The EU has put an end to Franco German rivalry for control of Europe -both States together make up 28% of the total EU population.

  • Greenflag

    sean fear ,

    ‘Ireland’s reputation amongst Europe’s peoples (as opposed to its political class) has been enhanced by this vote.’

    Yes among every lunatic fringe group of neo nazis , racists , communists , marxists and anarachists , and religious fanatics , from Galway Bay to the Black Sea and from Sicily to Lappland .

    But for the vast majority of ‘middle europe ‘ the people who remember and are aware of a thousand years of intra european wars – Ireland’s reputation has been diminished not enhanced .

  • Peat Blog

    Ireland’s reputation will certianly be dimished amongst some of the new mamber states as they fear that their access to Structural Funds etc. will be affected. They have seen how Ireland benefited and will be wondering why (however wrongfully…) Ireland is perhaps jeopardising their own future.

  • George

    Greenflag,
    seeing as the turnout for both Nice referenda was lower than for Lisbon, maybe we should actually vote on Nice again until it reaches the level of voter turnout acceptable to you.

    What is this magical percentage where you will accept the democratic will of the people by the way?

  • Sean Fear

    “But for the vast majority of ‘middle europe ‘ the people who remember and are aware of a thousand years of intra european wars – Ireland’s reputation has been diminished not enhanced . ”

    Actually, it’s the middle of the roaders (eg the two thirds of UK voters who are opposed to the Treaty) who’ll be pleased. It’s the eurofanatics like you who are the fringe.

  • Henry94

    greenflag

    The EU has put an end to Franco German rivalry for control of Europe -both States together make up 28% of the total EU population.

    The French already voted against this treaty (when it was called a constitution) and the Germans don’t get to vote because apparently Hitler proved they can’t be trusted with referendums.

    The idea that together or separately they have reached the “end of history” is naive.

  • DC

    Henry, can we all assume that you want the Punt backed linked directly to
    Sterling££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££

  • Hmm…

    George – You seem to think that it’s undemocratic to suggest that a second referendum might be held on this issue. This strikes me as pretty odd as it’s a mainstay of democratic thought that the people can’t bind themselves (and future generations) once and for all. If they could they simply wouldn’t be a free people at all – everyone would be labouring under the will of the dead generations, unable to overturn their decisions. Taking any decision to be inviolate liek that is incompatible with democracy (much as one might like to identify a vote that has gone the way you want as ‘the (real) will of the people’). Democracy means that the only way to unseat the outcome of a majority vote is through another majority vote and if ‘The People’ change their mind, well, so be it.

    Is this showing a lack of respect for anyone? Not as far as I can see. If I think someone has made a bad decision, I see no problem with asking them to think again.

    Personally, I hope they do change their minds, but that’s another story…

  • Dave

    “George – You seem to think that it’s undemocratic to suggest that a second referendum might be held on this issue.” – Hmm

    I can see that you, much like the brainwashed pro-EU dupes, belong to the Robert Mugabe School of Democracy: if you don’t like the result, ignore it; and if you can’t ignore it, make them vote again until you get a result that you do like.

    The problem what strain of ignorance, child, is that one would be locked into a endless sequence of elections – or is it just the losing ‘Yes’ side who are entitled to another poll in your warped grasp of democratic methodology? If so, that’s a tad biased, isn’t it? Under the Robert Mugabe School of Democracy, the ‘No’ side would also be entitled to another poll if they lost.

    Let those quisling governments who cheated their own citizens out of the right to vote on legislation that alters their fundamental human and constitutional rights how restore that right to their citizens by seeking to ratify any replacement for the rejected Lisbon Treaty (also previously rejected under its previous incarnation as the Constitutional treaty) by plebiscite and not by parliament.

  • Dave

    Typo: “The problem [b]with that[/b] strain of ignorance, child, is that one would be locked into a endless sequence of elections…”

  • Greenflag

    seanfear ,’it’s the middle of the roaders (eg the two thirds of UK voters who are opposed to the Treaty) who’ll be pleased.

    So the middle of the roaders in Germany , Belgium , France , Italy , Spain , Portugal etc etc and the other countries don’t matter only those of the UK ? . The UK makes up about 13% of the EU population . The UK has been luke warm on the whole EU project virtually from day one . They are the only significant economy now in Europe which is outside the Euro common currency area ffs .

    All of the main political parties in the Republic – FF, FG, Labour , Greens and PD’s who together represent 90% plus of the Irish electorate supported a YES vote . The NO votes amounted to 24% of the total electorate . One has to assume that many if not most of those who did’nt vote may now be regretting the result .

    IMO we need another vote. I’d like to see Referenda having to have a minimum turnout of 70% before a change can be made to the Constitution. That way at least if something is passed by 36% to 34 % then if the non voters are split 50/50 (a fair and practical assumption imo ) then one can ‘project a 51 % for the total electorate.

  • George

    Greenflag,
    “IMO we need another vote. I’d like to see Referenda having to have a minimum turnout of 70% before a change can be made to the Constitution”

    One one referendum since the Constitution was enacted in 1937 has had such a high %.

    Nice I and Nice II were both below the Lisbon figure but I didn’t hear you demanding a Nice III.

    As I said, your attitude to democracy is very disturbing.

  • Greenflag

    George ,

    ‘What is this magical percentage where you will accept the democratic will of the people by the way? ‘

    The problem with referenda with low turnouts is that they can skew the result in favour of a vociferous minority . Because we have no minimum legal turnout figure in our Constituion for referenda the No vote was carried by 24.5% of the electorate . In other words against 76% of the population who either voted YES or stayed at home to watch the soccer .

    If there were a minimum turnout requirement of 70% before any proposed change to the constitution could be passed or rejected that would give an overall ‘majority’ of the electorate based on the fair assumption that non voters are split 50/50 in their views .

    Taking the referenda just passed 53% to 47% in a 53% turnout . The 53% Yes vote represents 24.5% of the total electorate . If we halved the non voters the 47% who stayed at home and divide them between both camps then the No’s would have had 24.5 + 23.5 = 48% and the Yes vote would have been 24 + 23.5 = 47.5%

    If the turnout requirment for change or no change were made 70% then had the results been as they were and assuming a 70% turnout the NO vote would have been 37.1 % of the electorate plus 15% (half the 30% of non voters) which would give a 52.1% No . The Yes vote would have been 48% .

    Under those circumstances I’d concede that the ‘democratic ‘ will had been expressed .

    Given that this country cannot afford to be isolated from the EU either officially or by ‘reputation ‘then we should have another referendum and I don’t know the legalities but all the main parties might want to look at having a minimum electoral turnout before any changes can be made . That way no vociferous minority of the right or of the left will be able to ‘steal’ a result based on a ‘low’ turnout .

  • Greenflag

    ‘One one referendum since the Constitution was enacted in 1937 has had such a high %. ‘

    So what. If we value our democracy and there are some who profess to be prepared to die for it then surely being asked to vote for it should not be an encumbrance . I would be against making voting a legal requirement generally in elections, but in constitutional change referenda it’s better for all concerned that a minimum turn out of say 70% or maybe 75% would concentrate both politicians and voters minds wonderfully .

  • You’d need compulsory voting, per the Australians, before you could get your way Greenflag. Sort that and we’ll talk.

  • George

    Greenflag,
    the problem is that you are only engaged in voter turnout now that the result isn’t to your liking.

    You said nothing last summer when Bertie Ahern was elected Taoiseach following a Dáil election with a turnout of less than 70%.

    You seemed quite happy to believe the Irish people had spoken back then.

    As I said, you have a disturbing attitude towards democracy and no amount of faux number-crunching will alter that fact.

  • Sean Fear

    “So the middle of the roaders in Germany , Belgium , France , Italy , Spain , Portugal etc etc and the other countries don’t matter only those of the UK ”

    Well, if we’re talking about France, remind me how the French voted in 2005?

  • Greenflag

    mark dowling ,

    ‘You’d need compulsory voting, per the Australians,

    Compulsory might work in Australia . It won’t work in Ireland . Having a minimum 70- 75% electoral vote for referenda is about the most that could be achieved . For Dail elections given that there are no Constitutional issues involved I’d leave the situation as is . If the Government needs putting out the PR system has shown it can be done and it usually is achieved by a higher than average turn out .

  • Greenflag

    george ,

    ‘You said nothing last summer when Bertie Ahern was elected Taoiseach following a Dáil election with a turnout of less than 70%. ‘

    Thats’ right . There was nothing to say . See post 15 above .

    ‘no amount of faux number-crunching will alter that fact. ‘

    Where’s the faux ? The numbers speak for themselves . Changes to the constitution should not be implemented by a minority vote of the electorate .

  • Greenflag

    sean fear ,

    ‘remind me how the French voted in 2005? ‘

    Are you suffering from Alzheimers or is it ADS ?

  • George

    Greenflag,
    “Changes to the constitution should not be implemented by a minority vote of the electorate.”

    We’ve a bit of problem there as the Constitution itself was implemented after being passed by a minority of the electorate.

    In fact, I know of no government in Western Europe that has received a majority vote, using your new post-Lisbon criteria. Perhaps you could tell me how many out of the 27 meet the new Greenflag standard.

    Strange how the electoral world was fine for you until last Friday morning.

    Now, post-Lisbon, it seems not even the Irish Constition has a democratic mandate and neither does any government in the EU.

    As I said, you have a disturbing take on democracy.

  • Reader

    George: As I said, you have a disturbing take on democracy.
    He has a strange take on arithmetic too. How did he turn 53% of 53% into 24.5%? Then how did he turn a Yes minority into a Yes majority?

  • Greenflag

    reader,

    Sorry for the confusion – typo

    The above post 10 instead of ‘the 53% Yes vote represents 24.5% ‘ should have read ‘the
    47% Yes vote represents 24.5% of the electorate. I rounded up the numbers so just in case you are not familar with the concept of rounding up the total number of NO vote was 862,415 out of a total electorate of 3,051,324 which as a percentage comes to 28% of the total electorate choosing NO . Thus a total of 72% chose either Yes (25% of electorate ) or did’nt vote at all ( 47% of electorate).

    This does not affect the projected results above in post 10 of having a minimum turnout of 70% in referenda so that the result will not be skewed by the votes of a minority of the electorate as we have seen in this and indeed other referenda .

  • kensei

    GF — why do you assume all those who didn’t vote really wanted “Yes”?

  • Greenflag

    kensei ,

    ‘why do you assume all those who didn’t vote really wanted “Yes”? ,

    I did’nt assume anything of the sort. Every political pundit prior to the election said that the lower the turn out the more likely a No vote which is what happened . So it’s not unreasonable to suggest that a higher turnout would have led to a Yes vote . Having a minimum 70% turnout in a referenum for it to be ‘legal’ and dividing the non voters 50/50 between the opposing sides would ensure that one side or the other could claim a democratic majority . With turnouts of less than 70% then it becomes possible for a minority of the electorate to impose their will on the majority . You can of course make the point that those who don’t vote don’t care one way or the other . The lesson of history is that those who don’t care are usually made to care later and it’s usually very unpleasant -witnesss modern day ‘unionism’.

    Better in my view to ensure that at least as far as referenda go to have a minimum turn out figure of 70- 75% . For General Elections high than average turnouts usually mean people want a change of government and they usually get one in such instances .

  • George

    I did’nt assume anything of the sort. Every political pundit prior to the election said that the lower the turn out the more likely a No vote which is what happened . So it’s not unreasonable to suggest that a higher turnout would have led to a Yes vote

    Considering these are the same pundits who were saying that Nice II was passed because of a higher turnout than Nice I and the turnout for the Lisbon referendum was higher than Nice II but was a No I would say that you are assuming quite a lot.

    In fact, based on the evidence, what you suggest is completely unreasonable and indefensible.

    Unless of course you can explain why a higher turnout gives a no vote but at the same time suggests a yes vote?

    Then again as you aren’t a fan of democracy I’m not surprised that you value the opinion of pundits over the actual results of the referenda themselves.