#EUREF: Heart saying ‘no’; but will the head say otherwise?

Right, you cannot put much store by one trip out with a couple of canvassing groups, in two very different parts of north side Dublin; Ballymun with Sinn Fein and Sutton Park (on the Dart line to Howth) with Fianna Fail… Harry McGee makes a very interesting observation:

Party leader Micheál Martin has joined Senator Averil Power on the hustings. Compared to the Lisbon and Nice treaties – where indifference was the predominant mood on the doorsteps – there is a huge level of engagement. Even those who aren’t sure what it’s all about give clear signals that that knowledge gap will be remedied by polling day.

It makes for long chats at doorsteps, with Power’s trademark jolly laugh never wavering even through the most tedious and crankish of engagements. She ends up sprinting between houses to try and finish the canvass by dark. It’s evident the vitriol against Fianna Fáil has died down too. There are only three rebuffs in 200 houses but one is very dramatic.

“Get lost,” a woman tells Power. “You were in power and destroyed the country.” The Senator quickly obliges.

Over in Belclare, in Ballymun, a smaller Sinn Féin team headed by Dublin North West TD Dessie Ellis encounters no such hostility. Indeed, in an hour and a half of door-knocking, not even one householder says they are voting Yes. It’s No all the way.

This is the kind of thing that intrigues political parties. What does it mean? Well, Harry goes on to make a fairly nuanced observation:

there is a problem inherent there for No campaigners. You can see it in the level of engagement, which is minimal. Indeed, most of the conversations are one-way as Ellis sets out his objections. While people are saying No, many of them may also be too apathetic to actually vote.

The minority who explain their reasoning have certainly thought about it. One man says: “I just do not believe the banks. We need to do what Iceland did. They are in a much better position.” He turns to Ellis and adds. “I’ve turned more left in the last couple of years. I’m voting No, de-fin-ite-lee.”

In Sutton Park, Fianna Fáil focuses its argument on the bailout fund, the ESM. Martin and Power also point out the uncertainty of a No vote, especially its effect on foreign direct investment.

“I hope that we do not need a second bailout but if we do, there is the certainty of having this. Yes will be better for investment such as the jobs in Mylan [a pharma company that recently recruited] down the road,” says Power.

“If you go No,” Martin tells a couple who are wavering, “there are no guarantees at all. Guaranteed funding in 2014 is the key issue. The bottom line is that it opens the door to the ESM. If you vote No, there will be uncertainty. It’s as stark as that.”

But the two politicians receive as much as they give. A woman and her adult daughter complain that Irish governments have been pushovers. “Things cannot be any worse. We are being screwed. I am very angry,” says the woman.

Her daughter pipes in: “Would a Yes really change anything?” The mother is blunt. “The Government needs to kick ass. They need to have the balls to say No to Europe.”

A great line. But, if we set aside for a moment the one thing Micheal Martin’s insistence yesterday that this referendum is not about who gets to run the country, the one thing that should encourage Fianna Fail is that people are still talking to them…

As Noel Whelan noted back in 2005 (for the election where David Trimble was finally cashiered) at a Slugger live event in Belfast, landslides are silent because the people have decided to stop talking to you. That may be of some hope to the Yes campaign (and, dare I say it, the old sinners of Fianna Fail).

As for the No campaign…

Sinn Féin’s Seán Marlowe, out with Ellis tonight, also articulates how that phenomenon translated into a concern for them. “There is too much apathy. People are angry but when you meet them on the doorsteps they don’t really convince you they will vote. Getting the vote out is our main worry.”

Given the sentiment in the country, you have to expect this to be closer than the polls are now calling it. Keep an eye out tonight for an early release of a Red C poll that may have some encouraging news for the No camp.

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  • Alias

    “If you go No,” Martin tells a couple who are wavering, “there are no guarantees at all. Guaranteed funding in 2014 is the key issue. The bottom line is that it opens the door to the ESM. If you vote No, there will be uncertainty. It’s as stark as that.”

    That is just a FF eurogombeen dutifully spinning the line prepared by the EU’s propaganda department. Instead of trying to sell the benefits of surrendering fiscal sovereignty to the EU and harmonsing fiscal and taxation policy with the eurozone, they have been instructed to scaremonger the natives with bogus threats.

    In reality, the dynamic that led to EU bail-outs of eurosystem lenders/borrowers based in countries that have been bankrupted by EU sovereignty over their monetary and marcoeconomic policies (and, of course, 100% executive control of their central banks as an intregal part of ESCB) will still be in place after the treaty is rejected. Indeed, that dynamic will be more urgent then.

    The dynamic is to bail-out out massively-overleveraged eurosystem lenders/borrowers based in France and Germany (where no major bank has a leverage ratio below 52) who would have to seek capital from French and German taxpayers if the Irish taxpayers refuse to continue to underwrite their speculative lending losses to eurosystem lenders/borrowers based in Ireland. So, not only will France and Germany continue to lend, they’ll have to lend on less extortionate terms in order to persuade the Irish to continue to bail-out French and German banks.

    At any rate, they are not required since Ireland is a member of the IMF and entitled to seek funds from that source. The IMF, remember, offered funds more cheaply than the extortionate rate charged to Ireland by the EU and its officials were highly critical of that extortionate rate at the time.

    The other point in this is that bail-out funds are only needed to bail-out eurosystem lenders/borrowers and will no longer be needed if Ireland discintunues the dismal practice.

    As we can see, eurosystem bondholders (illegitimately guaranteed by the state at the behest of the EU/ECB) will enjoy 20 billion of Irish taxpayers’ money free of charge this year, and a further 35 billion over the next 3 years.

    2012 TOTAL: € 19,170,463,800
    2013 TOTAL: € 17,373,468,897
    2014 TOTAL: € 5,879,626,024
    2015 TOTAL: € 11,649,122,967

    This is all to bail-out eurosystem lenders/borrowers in foreign EU countries, using eurosystem lenders/borrowers based in Ireland as a conduit. These eurosystem lenders/borrowers based in Ireland cannot be saved and are only kept in business to perform the former functions for Germany and France. The funds going into these banks in repayment of loans (which have 143 billion on desposit) should be used by the state to reclaim taxpayers’ money it has already squandered propping up the eurosystem.

  • Alias

    One last point, far from the europhile myth that membership of the eurozone offers cheap credit (as if this is an advantage to a country, instead of a factor that will bankrupt it) bondholders offer credir more cheaply to countries that retain sovereignty over their monetary policy.

    Once Ireland defaults and rescinds the illegitimate guarantess to it offered to bail-out the eurosystem, it will then be in a position to balance its books and borrow more cheaply from markets that will be eager to lend to it as a low debt economy.

  • dwatch

    “What happens if Ireland says ‘no’ to eurozone fiscal treaty?

    “There is a view that the ‘austerity treaty’ will condemn Ireland to 20 years of cuts in public services and that the eurozone cannot afford to let the country go bust for fear of exacerbating the crisis – says think-tank”

    Read more: http://www.publicserviceeurope.com/article/1919/what-happens-if-ireland-says-no-to-eurozone-fiscal-treaty#ixzz1uf3irM21

  • Henry94

    I think Dr. Marlowe’s instinct is right. My feeling is that the fear tactics have worked and middle Ireland will vote for the treaty. They will keep their protest votes for the Local and European elections.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  • Henry94

    poll result according to poster on p.ie

    Yes 53, +6
    No 31, -4
    Don’t Know 16, -2

    Excl don’t knows
    Yes 63
    No 37

    Game over.

  • The art of the “possible”?
    There is always a tendency to vote within limits that are set.
    Thus BNP, TUV, UKIP, Communist, Green, Workers Party or Ron Paul are outside the “limits” and people vote in a context of reality.
    So Head always wins over Heart.
    But even within the realistic boundaries there is a certain room for Head (the Right) versus Heart (Left).
    But the Global and European Crisis has produced a situation where political parties previously anxious to stress the differences are al telling the Electorate that there is no alternative.
    The Greeks did not like that and will that embolden the Irish electorate.

    In Dublin last week it was clear that the establishment was urging a “yes” vote while the perceived cranks (People Before Profit, Socialist, Green, Workers Party, Sinn Féin) are urging “no”.
    Even allowing for SF going mainstream rather than crank….the “No” vote will be beyond the strength of the usual suspects.
    While I would certainly vote “No” if I had a vote, I may not actually want that to happen.
    The best result might be Yes 51%…..No 49%.
    The “Heart”/No needs to be strengthened but shamefully all the brains seem to be on the “Head”/Yes side.
    But hopefully they will get a scare.
    The worst indictment of Politics and Politicians is their “there is no alternative” mantra….whether over auterity or bank bail outs.

  • PaulT

    That RedC Poll Mick….er….read it and weep

    “REDC FG 29, -3 SF 21, +1 FF 19, +2 Lab 13, -1 Ind 12, nC (12/05/12)

    Party figures

    FG 29, -3
    SF 21, +1
    FF 19, +2
    Lab 13, -1
    Ind 12, nC

    Thanks to Castleknocker who posted them in the REDC Lisbon thread; I started a new thread as it seems good to keep them separate.

    They are interesting results, showing a downer for the government parties.”

    21%, SF are approaching the same % support in the South as they have in the North.

    Full thread on P.ie


  • Alias

    The “Heart”/No needs to be strengthened but shamefully all the brains seem to be on the “Head”/Yes side.

    Ireland has yet to produce an economist of merit, never mind a Nobel Prize winning economist. With the exception of David McWilliams, economists in Ireland have been an unmitigated collective failure in both prescription and prediction. You may as well seek advice on how to avoid icebergs from the ghost of Captain Edward Smith. Their ‘arguments’ are as dead and full of holes as Bonnie and Clyde after the ambush.

    However, two Nobel Prize winning economists, Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, know a pup when they see one.

  • Mick Fealty

    Paul T only FG is statistically significant…

  • tuatha

    Tank “think” sez a NO means 20 yrs of austerity which sounds dire until one realises that a YES ensures at least that long and likely much long, assuming that enough young people remain unemigrated to keep making the payments.
    Can we at least get one thing straight – the nation Ireland, ie people, did not go bust through over borrowing. Debt, private & public, was high but nothing untoward or even comparable to the neighbours across.
    The “crisis” came about entirely as a result of the undertaking given by Biffo & Co that the State would guarantee the losses incurred by a corrupt bunch of gombeens & shysters at Anglo. There was no general banking crisis.
    Had there been, a government guarantee of depositors’ funds would have assured the citizens, prevented a “run” and left the guilty to face bankruptcy.

  • sdelaneys

    On the party strength poll the 12% for independents should be 18%.
    FF are not wiped out yet, it seems.

  • Alias

    “There was no general banking crisis.”

    Only because the ECB-controlled Irish Central Bank didn’t report that the crisis was one of insolvency and not, as it did mis-report, liquidity. It didn’t report that because it wouldn’t have been able to get political support for the blanket guarantee if the natives knew the extent of the losses that they were guaranteeing.

    As Constantin Gurdgiev points out “the entire Government exercise of shoving taxpayers cash into insolvent institutions is unlikely to resolve the crisis. The core banks will continue nursing significant losses well into 2014-2015, with capital buffers remaining strained once potential losses are factored in. And this, in turn, will keep restrained their lending capacity.” You might note that a parcel of land in Cork that was purchased for 120 million has just be sold by NAMA for 7 million. NAMA tell you that the taxpayer made a profit because NAMA made a profit on the sale. Fair enough, but the bank that sold it to NAMA is owned by the taxpayer and it is the taxpayer who will make good the 112 million loss.

    Scroll down to TableA in the latest stats from the CSO and read the figure in the liability column for the “Monetary Authorty” (i.e. Irish Central Bank). It is now 120 billion. What the government isn’t telling you is that the minister for finance is the sole shareholder of the Irish Central Bank and therefore the Irish taxpayers are 100% liable for that 120 billion which the Irish Central Bank loaned to insolvent eurosystem banks based in Ireland in order to transfer it to eurosystem banks based outside of Ireland. That is in addition to the 97 billion loaned to those insolvent eurosystem banks based in Ireland directly by the ECB and which the taxpayer, as majority owner of them, will be called upon in due course to repay.


  • Mick Fealty


    You know better than most why I Ireland has restricted action on this… It’s hemmed in by what remains a popular political commitment to the European Union…

    The difference between Ireland the Greeks is the degree to which they have it under their command to remain inside the Eurozone.

    The Greeks are suffering a degree of ‘cognitive polyphasia’, i.e. wanting two things that effectively cancel each other out at the same time…

    Constantine is a reliable witness on the economics, to the extent he is very good on mapping out the future if we remain on this path…

    Where he is much weaker is mapping out the consequences of any single or series of alternatives… It’s not just him, it’s a signal weakness in Irish political discourse generally…

    For a country that fought so hard for its independence, it seems to value it fairly lightly… Though, to be fair, the EU’s federalist agenda has never adequately answered the persistently awkward questions about its democratic accountability:

    That said, the time to have these conversations without fear was before Ireland entered the Euro… Doing it now, will be painful, the markets never mind anyone else will make sure of that…

    The government can and will play the fear card because there is plenty to be fearful of…

    Now Declan Ganley (as predicted) has joined the race, maybe we’ll get a decent fight… SF and the ULA have handled their case appallingly badly…

  • Alias

    “Where he is much weaker is mapping out the consequences of any single or series of alternatives… It’s not just him, it’s a signal weakness in Irish political discourse generally…”

    He’d tell you if you asked him how defaults work.

    What you call a weakness in the political class (of which is Constantine is not a member) is there by design. There is a bi-partisan policy in the Irish parliament that places the EU above political discourse and dissenting debate, with no criticism of it and no discussion about the disadvantages of membership allowed.

    In addition, the three main political parties collude to implement a policy of only selecting europhiles as candidates for political office. This ensures that there are no dissenting voices in mainstream Irish political life. It is simply unthinkable to that ilk that Ireland should have any national interests that are not subservient to the EU’s collective interest, so no alternatives to EU rule are ever entertained.

    You might think it criminally irresponsible that no plans have been made to re-instate the punt if the euro collapses, never mind if Ireland deemed it to be in its national interest to withdraw from the Eurozone and default, but that is the simple reality of it – it cut out of discourse by design.

    Unfortunately, insolvent banks with assets worth a fraction of the hundreds of billions they borrowed from the eurosystem to buy them will force the issue onto the public and then onto the disgraced political class when the public has to make good the losses.

  • Alias,

    If the government was making plans to reintroduce the punt, the most criminally irresponsible thing would be to admit it. Sometimes the only thing to do is to lie through your teeth and pretend everything is fine right up to the wire. If the markets really are your enemy, you don’t telegraph your troop movements in advance.