Friday, June 13, 2008
EU sent back to Drawing Board after Irish Reject Lisbon Treaty
Why has one of the most ferevently pro EU nations recanted on its Europhilia? My feeling is that voters have voted, not on the relatively narrow topic of changes proposed by the treaty, but on the broader one of the EU itself. When Ireland joined back in 1961 the country voted about 6-1 in favour as the economy was weak and possible salvation was identified through joining up. This has remained Ireland's defeault position with the exception of ther Nice Treaty ratificsation in 2001 which required two goes before the desired result was obtained.
The vote yesterday as taken within the shadow of a gloomier economic prospect than for many a year. Some indications suggested, moreover, that working class voters voted more heavily against then middle class ones; possible evidence that Irish workers fear the 'Polish plumber' factor- indeed one encounters many East European workers in the Republic, now, wherever one travels. So the referendum, as so often, turned out to express the nation's concerns across a wide spectrum of economic well-being; few people I have met over here confess to knowing anything about the arcane measures of the treaty; this is not surprising as even the official government leaflet on the treaty read like a complex hand out to European Studies undergraduates.
This result must be seen as huge black eye for Bertie Aherne's successor, the pugilistic looking Brian Cowen. Just recently he was heard to mutter to a member of his ministerial team, when assailed by criticism from his own side: 'the fuckers!'. I suspect he will be widening hi8s expletive to include the half million or so of his fellow countrymen who have so embarrassed him. He won't forget this friday 13th.
As for the EU in general, this vote means the whole ratification of the treaty has been placed in question. Will the heads of government, due to meet in the near future, be prepared to unpick the current treaty to make it more acceptable? It's hard to see how they could and it's doubtful they will have the will. It's a sad day for Europhiles and a good one for the far left and the far right across Europe.
I think they'll try to get 26 and may veen send the Irish round again. I think it was Fine Gael woman claiming that the NO campaign were actually telling voters they could protest now and then put it right in the second vote as Nice.
It seems Sinn Fein organised an effective "No" vote in working class areas. But I can't see this scuppering the Treaty. Nice is right. If all the others ratify and say to the Irish "Look, we're going ahead with this, are you in or out?" they will change their minds. They would be mad not to given the extent to which they have benefited from EU membership. The "No" vote, in any case, is probably due to people taking the opportunity to give two fingers to the "political class", rather than a considered judgement on the treaty.
Agree re 'kick the shins of our rulers' aspect of the vote. First to reflect comolacency re EU and second, dissatisfaction with the economy.
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