Fiscal Compact Referendum: A comment round up…

Is a class based politics emerging? Jason O’Mahony seems to think so. Complaints that it was the middle class and rural voters wot one it against the poorer classes is part of a limiting contempt that some sections of Irish politics have for the people who always broker political power in the Irish state.

– Ross O’Carroll Kelly (can Ireland really sustain such an expensive stereotype any more), waiting on the seventh tee at Portmarnock:

O,” THE OLD MAN GOES, his hip flask poised at his lips, “how did you vote in the referendum?” Obviously I’m there, “Referendum? What referendum?” and he laughs so hord he ends up nearly showering me in XO.

“Did you hear that, Hennessy?” he goes. “A wry commentary on the futility of trying to stop, by democratic means, the inexorable drive towards a United States of Europe with Berlin as its beating heart.

– Miriam Lord notes the relief on the No side:

It was back to business as usual for Enda. From being microphone averse in the last few weeks, he answered all the questions put to him. Poor Gilmore, who saw more than his fair share of debate during the campaign, hardly got a look in.

It was a win. And a decisive one. The Taoiseach and Tánaiste phoned all their chums in Europe with the good news and told us they were very pleased to hear it. “It’s a result of both understanding and pragmatism of the Irish people” said Enda.

Then the Viking Splash boat passed by outside and the passengers gave a big, happy roar. And the blanket of blather slowly began to clear, giving us the holiday weekend to wonder what the fuss was all about.

– In terms of those Independents who eventually did take part it was not a good campaign. Shane Ross in particular bombed

– Johnny Fallon has a warning for the Government parties:

…they cannot assume this is an endorsement of the EU itself or a free rein for the future. The vote was reluctant in many cases and unless the EU changes it’s approach I would not hold out much hope for another referendum being passed if the people had to vote. The government must not follow, instead, having secured this vote, our government must now lead the way in Europe and become the nation that can bring others together and knock some heads together until the EU negotiates a policy and a future than works.

– Fiach Kelly delineates some of the battleground between Sinn Fein and Labour for that old working class Fianna Fail vote has been set:

..three of Dublin’s most working-class constituencies voted No. Dublin South West narrowly went No, by a margin of 50.7pc to 49.3pc. The constituency includes Tallaght.

Dublin North West takes in areas such as Ballymun, and it also went No, by 53.2pc to 46.8pc, as did Dublin South Central, with areas such as Crumlin, by 50.9 to 49.1pc.

He might also add Dublin Mid West which has two sitting Labour TDs and only went Yes by hair’s breadth… Yet he notes that “other working-class areas, such as Rinsgend in Dublin South East, went Yes.”

– On that note, I’m going back a while to pick up Derek Mooney’s observation a few weeks back that this referendum would see a reinforcement of the left right split in terms of voter patterns we saw in last year’s general election:

A Yes result would recalibrate the centre of the Irish political spectrum several degrees to the right. While this would not vanquish the left, it would limit their scope and hem them in.

This could help explain why Sinn Féin has been so fierce in urging a No. A Yes vote would place a definite ceiling on their ambitions and make the centre/centre right economic approach the norm for at least the next decade.

This would leave the hard left /socialist factions with no influence, just sitting on the sideline spouting rhetoric – so, no change there.

The main casualty could be Irish Labour Party, no matter what the result. “Frankfurt’s Way or Labour’s Way” may turn out to be the most devastating political slogan of recent times – devastating to its authors, that is.

– As for the Tanaiste himself, he’s trying to focus on the big picture (in hopes of having something to offer his party’s constituents by February 2016):

The referendum result was a loud expression of confidence in the Irish economy, and another reminder that Ireland is dealing effectively with its problems. What we need now is what the rest of Europe needs: a stimulus to boost growth and create jobs. With the right policy mix, our potential is unlimited. The same, in the end, is true of Europe.

– On the Italian blog Skapegoat, Aldo Ciummo notes the drip drip effect on a population which is not politically ill-desposed towards the EU and Europe but whose confidence in both has waned over the last four years of economic crisis:

In Irlanda le politiche di austerity, pur più equilibrate rispetto ad altri paesi nella distribuzione dei costi, hanno indebolito soprattutto coloro che avevano ricevuto duri colpi dagli anni della crisi economica, tanto che il voto contrario al Fiscal Compact, come era già accaduto nei due referendum sul Trattato, è venuto dai quartieri popolari, caratterizzati dal lavoro manuale, portato avanti da una parte della popolazione che non è antieuropea e che non è chiusa al resto della UE, ma che negli ultimi quattro anni ha pagato gli errori e i guadagni degli ambienti finanziari internazionali ed ha visto diminuire drammaticamente il proprio potere d’acquisto a fronte del salvataggio degli istituti di credito effettuato dallo stato irlandese e dalla Ue utilizzando le imposte versate dai contribuenti, soprattutto lavoratori.

In fact the numbers in the No side of the argument have been pretty consistent over the all the major EU referendums. It’s just that none of those poltiical force courting them have come out as conventionally Eurosceptic in the British mould (possibly because that, in the Irish public mind, is associated with the rather more open British model).

– For instance Dan Hannan, whose grandfather once fought for Irish independence, puts it in stark but politically accurate terms:

Irish people are being offered a vote that other eurozone countries would kill for. They alone are being asked whether or not they approve of the idea of giving public money to private banks. They alone get to decide whether they want to be part of the racket in future.

– Mark Dooley in the Daily Mail reechoes that thought

The morally courageous thing to do would be to admit that our problems will never be solved so long as we persist in the Eurozone. Unlike Greece, ours is a highly educated and flexible economy, which has shown great resilience in the face of pain. Our best chance is to bet that these advantages will sustain us once we return to the Punt.

Yes, that would mean a default – but only on those debts that should never have been placed on our shoulders to begin with. However, it would also mean that we could regain control of our interest rates and, once again, peg our currency to Sterling. Severe short-term pain, I know, but this time for long-term gain.

Morally courageous, and politically suicidal. But as John notes, no one in Ireland really opposes the EU without some kind of political cover… And that, in fairness, may be more to with being a small open economy in a world of much larger players…

– Then of course there is the question of that nasty political trilemma thrown up by the fact that Ireland alone gets to vote on any thing that might even tangentially affect Irish sovereignty. British Labour MEP Mary Honeyball makes a suggestion (that no doubt would drive Mr Hannan nuts if it ever showed the least sign of happening):

The European Parliament has never in its history been given anything that may be described as a democratic mandate. True, member states go to the polls at the same time in June every five years to elect me and my fellow MEPs. Yet there has not been a European Parliament election in the UK fought on a meaningful manifesto for the European Parliament which gave those elected genuine legitimacy.

The current demands for a referendum on EU membership have, I believe, come directly out of the woeful failure to have proper elections to the European Parliament. European Parliament elections should be fought on strong manifestos put forward by the political groups in the European Parliament and adapted for use in individual member states. The hard issues should be there as the European Parliament now has legislative power on environmental matters, transport, employment and social issues and the EU single market, amongst other things. Voters should have a proper chance to evaluate what the political parties intend to do on issues where the EU has competence.

– The FT considers the economic problem a Yes vote was supposed deal with, and notes:

Dublin’s plan to return to bond markets later this year is likely to be aided by the Yes vote, although uncertainty across the eurozone will pose a major challenge. It is also hopeful that the vote will strengthen its hand in negotiations with EU authorities on restructuring €31bn in bank debts that Ireland assumed during the crisis.

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  • Framer

    The voters realised there would be no second referendum so decided on a ‘Yes’ in the expectation that they would be rewarded that way instead.

  • Brian Walker

    Left- right voting doesn’t necessarily deliver a left-right polarity in coalition government, certainly under STV. Sinn Fein has several traditional territorial bases and has shown it can aggregate the independent vote in the cities, so that’s something to work on . And it depends on what sort of left you’re talking about, doesn’t it? Agitprop and anti-EU making common cause with UKIP or social democratic? An understandably opportunist Sinn Fein shooting at an open goal finds itself on the Keynesian side of the argument but that doesn’t turn Gerry Adams or even Pearse Doherty into Paul Krugman. Is it any more than a party of reaction like the left wing Syriza in Greece? I would guess that it’s a long way off winning the trust necessary to act as a partner in government. But if it gained depth and reach who know what might happen?

    Could Labour and Sinn Fein credibly find themselves on the same side at the end of the present Dail? Or Sinn Fein and a (slightly) revived Fianna Fail under a Eamon o Cuiv- type ticket? I only ask..

  • Mick Fealty

    Think is this is a key point Brian:

    “Agitprop and anti-EU making common cause with UKIP or social democratic?”

    That goes for all parties on the left who have found themselves adopting pujardist anti tax positions in order to damage the government.

    I think this is SF’s long term dilemma in the Republic. Social Democrats (like Labour), are simply not trusted on the National Question, especially in border areas where there’s now a three way contest for votes.

    I see Labour as being vulnerable in the short term to a very slick, able SF front bench, especially in comparison to their bunch of old stagers on their last lap of honour.

    But having captured that vote, FF will have a freer hand with the much larger middle class/rural vote where power is usually brokered. If you take on Labour’s clothes too convincingly they’ll end up locking themselves into the mudguard position Labour have traditionally suffered.

    I don’t mean to belittle the achievements of the party thus far, but I would not like to obscure the long term strategic difficulties either.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’d add that FF, that ever malleable band is backing the centre right in the days ahead. And as an aside, we might also look to Greece for an analogue for how the ultra left fares in its move for power.

    In France, it usually ends in tears…

  • Ross O’Carroll Kelly should go shabby genteel. It would suit him.