Thursday, June 12, 2008

Not Nice in Lisbon: Contrary Irish Voters?

Fintan O'Toole of The Irish Times, cited in today's New York Times quoting his editorial from The Times (of London!) comments about his fellow nationals: “The Irish seem instinctively inclined to listen to dissonant voices, to rebel against their own establishment and to scupper the best-laid plans of the Eurocrats.” In 2001, the Nice Treaty was defeated by the Irish electorate. Predictably, it was passed a year later with some connivance by an infuriated Brussels cadre finagling with the state's ruling powers. Each nation has to pass these types of EU treaties for them to be ratified. It's time for another one, all 287 pp. of it. Nobody can explain it, but nearly all want it passed. Except, perhaps, one stubborn redoubt off the continental shelf, on their glowering island. The Irish, it seems, are to blame.

Now, after the European constitution was torpedoed by the French and Dutch, it's another chance for the Irish to make their contrary voices heard-- if they bother to vote. It's strange why the Irish would not leap at this chance, given their rare privilege. A sign of how the tide's against the Irish, as usual, when it comes to empire. I'm not sure how or why they alone were so favored with suffrage. It's instructive and chilling to think that only they, out of nearly half a billion people, get the chance to individually decide, in truly democratic action, against this imposition by Brussels to trot out another attempt at a constitution by any other name, with all its inherent dangers of eroding sovereignty, increasing NATO, and steamrollering over a small country's rights in the name of efficiency, standardization, and globalization.

Sarah Lyall, for the NYT, in St Stephen's Green, talked to people, some of whom even were registered to vote. Contrasting Brian Cowan's cheerleading with the view on the street, she noted how Cowan's "message was lost on Brendan Fairbrother, a retired man of 65 with a comfortable spot in the park, a congenital mistrust of government and strong views on the failures of the Irish health care system. 'I’m voting "no,"' he said of the treaty, 'though I don’t know an awful lot about it.'"

Unique among 27 EU member countries, instead of a legislature or politicians making the back-room deals to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, the Irish are given a referendum. Fianna Fáil and the usual business leaders back it. But, a growing number of their recalcitrant constituents regard this EU ploy as yet another attempt to goad independent nations into an unwieldy and unwise cabal. Sinn Féin, Sinéad O'Connor, and an alliance of other malcontents, the NYT suggests, play into another act of an ongoing drama. The Continent, as with Britain, attempts to goad the Irish into submission. The Irish, as with Britain, attempt to kick back against the pricks.

Irish To Vote on Complex European Treaty . Photo from same article.

1 comment:

Scudbob said...

They did it. The Irish had their chance and they made the most of it. Given what they have experienced socially and economically over the last couple of decades they were in a better position than most countries to decide which way to vote.

Similar to our first constitution the Europeans have many things to iron out. Yet by including counties like Poland and Turkey into the Union, the Irish have reason to pause over their own plight as well as for countries like Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Italy that increasingly feel like they rushed into their decision.

How would each country vote if its elections were not held at a time of economic growth?