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The Lisbon Treaty Referendum in Ireland

by Frank Schnittger Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 09:50:36 AM EST

What follows is the text of my Letter to the Editor of the Irish Times.  As they are unlikely to publish it I will offer it here for your edification even though it doesn't say much that will be new to our erudite readership.  All comments welcome.

Madam - The EU and its predecessors were set up to end a succession of wars between the major powers of Europe and to rebuild their shattered economies after World War II.  It continued by admitting more peripheral European countries like Ireland and helping them to grow their grossly underdeveloped economies through a whole range of imaginative administration measures such as the Common Agricultural Policy and various regional, infrastructural and cohesion funds.  It enabled the unification of Europe in the aftermath of the Cold War.  It has helped to manage, contain, and sometimes even resolve severe regional tensions in the Middle East, the Balkans, and, much closer to home, in Northern Ireland.  In all of this it has been extraordinarily successful and has helped to create unprecedented prosperity and peace in Europe and on this island.

Now all the 27 Governments of its member countries have asked us to do our bit to help the EU perform more effectively and efficiently in a world with a whole new range of challenges - wars in the middle east, global warming, peak oil, mass food shortages, and human rights violations world wide.  And what is our response?  We whinge about a neutrality that never was and which we have ourselves flouted through rendition flights through Shannon.  We whine about the complexity of the document as if the unification of Europe could be anything but a difficult and complex process.  We claim to be teaching our fellow members to be more democratic by voting against a Treaty against the expressed wishes of all their democratically elected governments.  We complain we will have less influence in a Union of 27 members than we had in a Community of 15.  We claim the Lisbon Treaty will allow greater immorality to be imported into Ireland when we managed to achieve the mass abuse of children all on our own.

Promoted by Colman - it's not an unfair summary of most of the No campaign, in my view.


[editor's note, by Migeru] Fold inserted here for the Front Page
And who are these people who warn of all of these terrible things?  Sinn Fein - with a wonderful track record of promoting human rights on this island?  A collection of Nationalists and Socialists who have opposed every EU Treaty that ever was - including our very entry into the European Community?  A wealthy businessman with close links to the US security establishment which opposes the development of the EU because it may challenge US hegemony?  A ragbag collection of moral and religious fundamentalists whose spiritual predecessors have opposed every aspect of the modernisation of Ireland - from equal rights for women, children, gays, and religious minorities to compassionate attempts to deal with poverty, healthcare, (Mother and Child Scheme), marital breakdown, family planning and the development of human rights generally?

Someone once defined Chutzpah as the act of a person who murdered his parents and pleads for compassion on the grounds that he is now an orphan.  I will say this for the opponents of the Lisbon Treaty.  They have some nerve!  What good have they brought to this country and to the world by comparison?  We badly need a much more effective EU to provide greater leadership to the world.  The Lisbon Treaty may be criticized that it does not do enough to achieve this, but it provides so much more than the reactionary nihilism of its opponents.  What Charter of Fundamental Rights have they ever offered us? Let us ratify the Lisbon Treaty and move on to even greater things.

Display:
Nicely crafted. The people campaigning against it are almost a compelling reason to vote for it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 07:40:40 AM EST
If only the Yes campaign could actually find some way to inspire people to vote - the No vote will likely win by default because the Yes vote won't bother turning out. Or maybe the perception that that's what's going to happen will depress the No vote and encourage the Yes.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 09:52:43 AM EST
The dominant narrative is a self-contradictory populist antagonism to "bureaucratic elites" combined with a liberal market based opposition to all regulation and "politics".  In reality the no side presupposes that what we have we can hold, and lets see if we can screw a little more out of the EU for ourselves.  A bit like the Republican's in the US, the no side is a weird coalition of business elite, social conservatives, religious fundies and narrow nationalists who imagine we can go back to comely maidens dancing at the cross roads.  

It's not cool to be pro-EU any more than it is to be pro-government.  But sometimes the Government that we have can actually be better than the alternative on offer, and the alternative here is to shout stop!  The world is moving too fast, we want things to stay the same.  I'm amazed that the impact of the Charter of Fundamental rights on copper-fastening civil rights in Northern Ireland is not being used as more of a selling point.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 03:21:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are reasons for this - not least of which is that the narrative is really 'Nobody fucks with me and tells me what to do - and certainly not any foreigners.'

It's not really contradictory. It's just not very informed or bright.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 10:30:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep - but when "the market" fucks with you its called "Freedom"

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 05:25:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the part that's usually forgotten, yes.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 09:52:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you get the yes faction to actually campaign like they care, is the question.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 05:15:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We claim to be teaching our fellow members to be more democratic by voting against a Treaty against the expressed wishes of all their democratically elected governments.

Nicely formulated, but I do have some problems with the content. After loosing referendums in key states, the constitution is now repacked and rebranded, and referendums are avoided to the max. Now, what would be the reaction if Hugo Chavez did that?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 10:01:33 AM EST
See previous n discussions. Has anyone got a link to a discussion of how the competing frames on this one work? Because these arguments aren't happening in the same universe for all the participants.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 10:03:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the frames are quite obvious, "This is the best the system can provide, because of ..." vs. "This is not good enough because of ...".

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 10:22:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
National referendums are always going to be framed by national and domestic issues and the popularity or otherwise of the national Government at the time.  If we want to develop a truly European Demos then we will need to give more power to the European Parliament, to leaders appointed by that Parliament, and to Europe wide referendums.  That is not going to happen in the short term, but it is probably the only way to go if you want a better functioning democracy at EU level.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 03:26:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is probably a good place to note this:
Well observed, but its not just them. Kevin Myers, and even David Quinn. Meanwhile the Sunday Times is refusing point blank to let me write a pro-Lisbon column as they are adopting a paper-wide No position. Most frustrating.

From Sarah Carey who has a column in the Irish version of the Sunday Times.

[Murdoch Alert]

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 10:07:46 AM EST
So, what if the no wins?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 10:27:06 AM EST
Does anyone know? Try again?  There's going to be a temptation to try and get around the few tens of thousands of people involved somehow. Possibly by writing a big cheque or something.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 10:29:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no plan B, and the EU project will probably be in a state of semi-paralysis for some time - until the next major global crises, where the woefully inadequate response of the EU will probably force a re-think.  Big projects like the EU need big crises like WWII and the Cold War to move them forward.  Let's hope it doesn't take another war...

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 03:30:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Other than the expansion to 27 which was done in total haste and was supposed to have happened after the new treaty in any case, "the EU project" has been in semi-paralysis for the better part of 20 years. The Commission has done a good job of putting out new directives and keeping the States to their commitments, and the Parliament has asserted its authority and done a good job of codecision, but the Council, where the political impetus for "the EU project" has to come from, has been stocked with petty-minded nationalists who can't even bring themselves to campaign for their own treaty.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 05:14:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
so you are saying that a rejection of Lisbon just means "business as usual" for the EU?  I don't think that is an option given the changes in the world order over the past 30 years....

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 05:51:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, "business as usual" has pretty much sucked for at least a decade and I agree this is not really an option except that these are the national politicians we keep electing.

The world is likely to see an upheaval in the 2010's and the EU won't know what hit it because of these dunces.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 06:02:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I live in the west of Kerry and I'm appalled at the number of NO vote placards disseminated everywhere, with a ration of roughly 10 No to 2 Yes. When I ask people why would they vote No, the answer that comes out is "there's no need to give the EU more power", or an equally uneducated variance, "I want to be able to decide for myself..." and "the politicians want us to vote yes, that's why I vote no". Ahem. Small memories.
by Asinus Asinum Fricat (patric.juillet@gmail.com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 11:17:58 AM EST
Eaten bread is soon forgotten, but where will the next loaf come from?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 03:31:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that letter is entirely unfair its not he no side that colluded with rendition it the yes side, the no side don't claim we're neutral, its he yes side that say or neutrality will remain firm.
by lostexpectation on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 12:05:13 PM EST
What? The no side aren't going on about neutrality? What Ireland are you in?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 12:37:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the no side say our neutrality is dying, the yes side claim its perfectly intact, who is lying?
by lostexpectation on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 10:51:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Our neutrality has been a crock since day zero. Cynical nonsense.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 10:56:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Neutral against the Germans, neutral against the Soviets, neutral against Iraq ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 11:01:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but somehow you blame the no side for this rather then the yes side that's being in power all this time, as i said you letter is totally unfair.
by lostexpectation on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 01:31:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Every single decision in the "common security and defence policy" section of the Lisbon treaty is "unanimous" so Ireland would retain its veto to either not allow action or not take part in it.

The intention behind the treaty seems to be to eventually develop a common defence. Defence is defined as <blockquote.missions outside the Union for peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter</blockquote>(see Articles 42-46)

Whether "Irish neutrality is dying" in general is a matter entirely of internal Irish politics.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 11:19:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well the internal yes politicians are saying we're still neutral which is a lie, again its the yes side being dishonest, you can't argue about something changing without defining it first.  
by lostexpectation on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 12:20:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait, so you're saying that the no side claimed Ireland is already no longer neutral? On that you agree with Colman, then.

Then they should have been campaigning on restore Irish neutrality, not protect or preserve it.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 10:30:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes it is a polemic, and there are contradictions on both sides.  But I want the Treaty passed because with the Human rights charter and a more cohesive EU foreign policy structure it will be more difficult for the US to pick off the weaker and more compliant EU members one by one.  Call it a case of collective bargaining if you will - what chance has Ireland, on its own, of opposing US policy demands?  Now if we could blame the EU for being obstructive that would be a different matter entirely.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 03:35:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is the EU to blame for rendition?

Do I have to remind you that the only parliaments that have actually investigated rendition are the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 11:22:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the eu colluded with rendition on a eu basis, search the new transatlantic agenda on statewatch, also these meps national governments colleagues colluded with rendition even the socialist ones in spain and portugal who claimed to (iraq)anti-war
by lostexpectation on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 12:24:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, so the problem is the National governments (and the EU only through the Council, which is the Member states' government), not the EU.

Just like the "democratic deficit" is the national governments' fault.

Look, we documented the national governments' pathetic collusion or coverup here in gory detail, you don't have to remind me about Zapatero's government

Where is the outrage?

There are many parallels between the GAL dirty war and the Bush administration's war on terror. For European political purposes, it is the CIA rendition flights and secret prisons that are more relevant. This quotation from the Financial Times

"I am not disposed to putting a government which is a friend and ally in the pillory on the basis of suppositions and rumours," said José Bono, Spain's defence minister, after the allegations emerged.
is particularly painful to me, as it indicates that Spain's PSOE has not learnt anything from the GAL affair. If the Spanish experience is any guide, I suppose it is not surprising that the CIA's human rights violations on EU soil, and the apparent indifference, if not complicity, of our governments, do not elicit a stronger outcry from the people, the media, or our political representatives. Our only hope, as in Spain 15 years ago, is that the judiciary will do their job. Don't expect political leadership, and don't expect a popular movement for human rights. Dirty war is, indeed, perceived as necessary to preserve our way of life. Condi Rice will feel at home this week. How disgraceful.


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 10:29:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Under whose control is Shannon airport? The EU Commission, the Irish Government, or the US Pentagon?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 10:32:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Incidentially, talking of "the No side" or the "No campaign" is pretty much nonsensical. The only thing the no campaigns had in common was calling for  a No.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 17th, 2008 at 11:25:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well considering you used the phrase as shorthand too,

"Promoted by Colman - it's not an unfair summary of most of the No campaign, in my view."

it still doesn't justify your letter.

by lostexpectation on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 10:22:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
frank's letter
by lostexpectation on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 10:26:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There seems to be a lots of love here for the Lisbon treaty which I don't understand.

All in all, it seems an attack on democracy. Not only avoiding referendums but especially the fact that power seems to be given, in the treaty, less to democratic institutions and more to indirectly chosen, far away groups.

I would be all in favor of the treaty if it was to give lots of power to the European Parliament. Not only the parliament it is democratic, but also seems to be divided along political lines (as opposed to more dangerous "national" lines).

Because of this I would vote no (but I am not given the chance).

I have no problems with federalism, only with lack of democracy...

by t-------------- on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 12:42:34 PM EST
You're coming in long after the debate on the issue here - it would be inaccurate to say there was a lot of love for it.

I don't see a lot of movement of power towards the indirectly chosen groups: most of the power increases seem to be given to the parliament - though I'd like to see a lot more movement that direction - and some to national parliaments.

As to the local demands for referendums in member states, that's a problem of democracy in the member states, not the EU itself.

The question for me is whether the Lisbon Treaty is better than what is there now, and I think it probably is, on balance.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 12:45:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I fear that it depends very much on how big an animal the new Council "presidency" becomes. A lot of what Migeru wrote about Tory Bliar's plans for it had "power grab" stamped all over it.

Giving power to parliament is good and necessary. But I will sleep much more soundly when the Council has been explicitly castrated.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 01:34:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Persuade everyone involved that Europe should restructure itself as a federal state so that it's members are the citizens, not the states.

  2. ???

  3. Profit

Good luck on step 1 any time soon ... I'm not even convinced it's a great idea.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 01:57:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
I don't see a lot of movement of power towards the indirectly chosen groups: most of the power increases seem to be given to the parliament - though I'd like to see a lot more movement that direction - and some to national parliaments.

Then we must be looking at the treaty diferently.

As I understand it, the codecision process will be the general process of decision-making. That does empower the parliament a bit as it gives the parliament a modicum of power on pillars two and three, but within the codecision process the Commission has the monopoly on proposing new legislation and holds a veto (except overruled by a united Council) on changes to its proposals. Thus the main power transfer is from national executive governments to the Commission.

Now, I do not hold any love for having the national executive governments being part of the EU wide legislative process, but I hold less love for empowering an EU unitary executive (as in holding executive and legislative power).

(I might very well have misunderstood Lisbon treaty, in which case I will be delighted t be corrected.)

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 11:34:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Legislative initiative is not legislative power. The Commission proposes, but it plays no role in approving which is done jointly by the Parliament and the Council. Codecision is great.

The treaty of Lisbon also enshrines the rights of petition and initiative for citizens. If you get 1M signatures behind a legislative initiative the Commission cannot fail to act on it. Point me to a member state that has that.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 03:14:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am going to pull out the chart:
European Commission - Codecision:>

Initiative is in the early steps, but we agree there.

What I am calling a veto on changes is the combination of 16, 17 and 19.

  1. EP proposes changes
  2. Commission makes an opinion of the changes
19i) if Commissions opinion of the changes was positive, Council can adopt with qualified majority
19ii) if Commissions opinion of the changes was negative, Council can only adopt with unity

I intrepret 19ii) as Commission has veto on changes, but its veto can be overruled by a united Council. And changes are crucial since Commission holds the initiative, so changes to Commission proposals are the only way for EP and Council (in theory) to make proposals. In total this makes the Commission the most powerful part of the codecision process.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 06:52:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, this is on a legislative initiative of the Commission. So the most the Commission can do is admit its proposal has been changed beyond recognition and kill it.

The same happens at steps 2/3: when REACH came up the right thing was to approve it with amendments instead of killing it because the Barroso Commission could just scrap it (it originated in the Prodi Commission) at 3) and that would have been worse than no REACH.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 07:32:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So how does this not translate into legislative power for the Commission (shared with Parliament and Council)?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 10:09:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In practice the Commission doesn't exercise its veto power. I can't think of a single case where there has been a risk of a Directive being rejected because the Commission informed negatively on the Parliament's second-reading amendments, thus requiring unanimity in the Council.

Similarly, I don't think they have killed a Directive at step 3 rather than amend it to please the Parliament. I am not sure whether the Parliament has ever sent back a Directive at step 2 (i.e., failed to approve it with amendments).

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 11:32:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is good to hear.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 12:23:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I could be wrong, though.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 12:30:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
If you get 1M signatures behind a legislative initiative the Commission cannot fail to act on it. Point me to a member state that has that.

In Ireland a few people can get together with a Government minister in a pub, slip him a political donation and have a strong influence on Government policy or action.  It doesn't take a million people...

The problem with the 1M signature requirement is that there are very few trans-European organisations capable of organising and mustering such a number - perhaps European congress of Trade Unions? Perhaps a very large political party?  Perhaps the Catholic Church?   It would take a lot of funds and organisation to do so.  We only managed 27K with Stop Blair, and that was a big success on an easy populist issue.

I'm not sure the 1M proposal is anything more than a PR sop to populist democracy.  In reality only the very big, powerful or well funded could do anything with it.  And then the Commission could simply change the ball game by amending the proposal...

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 07:07:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
In Ireland a few people can get together with a Government minister in a pub, slip him a political donation and have a strong influence on Government policy or action.  It doesn't take a million people...
And that's a good thing. Surely you jest, Mr. Schnittger.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 07:34:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For the record:

Bertie Ahern - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The total value of lodgements and other transactions that have to date been queried by the Mahon tribunal in its public inquiries into the finances of the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, exceeds £452,800. The lodgements and transactions occurred between 1988 and 1997, although the vast bulk of the money was lodged in the period to 1995.[69]
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 10:01:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah shure that was just his friends giving the man a "dig-out" when he was "on his uppers" following his divorce settlement.  And of course few records were kept, and most transactions were in cash because - although he claims to be an "accountant" - he was so busy working for the people he didn't have time to attend to his own affairs - and tax affairs...  

Remarkably, not a single piece of evidence has emerged to date which implies he was corrupt - i.e. that he returned favours for the cash received - most of which seems to have come from genuine admirers who wanted to feel part o the inner circle without actually receiving anything other than some recognition in return.

What is worrying about this is that:

  1. Ahern saw nothing wrong with this at the time
  2. He doesn't seem to have seen a distinction between his personal and campaign finances, and indeed party finances
  3. It appears unlikely any of this was declared for income tax at the time - a remarkable trait in a Finance Minster.
  4. He was in receipt of a significant salary in all this time - even if, as he once complained - his job didn't come with a state residence or retinue of personal servants as (say) in Britain or France.  Having said that, his earnings in all this time (including the dodgy dig-outs) were a lot less than those of the lawyers working for the tribunal investigating him.  Something is not quite right there either.

Few Irish people seem to think that Ahern actually was corrupt - a benefit of the doubt not given to some of his predecessor cronies.  But his evidence in explaining the above has become increasingly incredible and his political legacy is in tatters - a pity given his many substantial achievements.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 7th, 2008 at 08:41:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Hungary (10 million inhabitants), the threshold for a referendum is 200,000 valid signatures. That was mastered by less resourceful organisations, too. So I think if just only in five states, there is motivation, there is media attention, and organisations who can send people into subway station concourses and public squares, it can be done.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 09:44:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lisbon is slightly preferable to the current Nice treaty, in my opinion. It does not make the EU less democratic. Rather, slightly more. We'll see how the changes work out.

It is a mistake to think that if Lisbon does not augur in a perfect EU as we imagine it, it should be opposed. You have to consider what we have at this time.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 12:48:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
tiagoantao:
I have no problems with federalism, only with lack of democracy...

Every major EU decision is unanimously approved by all member Governments and even minor ones require large majorities.  It then suits those national Governments to blame the EU for those self same decisions so they can deflect criticism/frustration at home.

The larger the EU gets, the more remote from ordinary citizens it seems to become, but they keys actors are still national Governments, nationally nominated commissioners and the EU Parliament.  The UK has virtually no tradition of referenda on national issues - why would you hold the EU to a higher standard?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 03:42:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The larger the EU gets, the more remote from ordinary citizens it seems to become, but they keys actors are still national Governments, nationally nominated commissioners and the EU Parliament.  The UK has virtually no tradition of referenda on national issues - why would you hold the EU to a higher standard?

I mixed 2 things, my fault: Forget referenda.

The point is power is being transfered from democratic national states (where power is still mostly a reasonably clear emanation from parliaments) to the EU with its complex system.

When I vote in my nation, I know pretty well the consequences of that vote in terms of parliament and government.

Power in the EU, currently, is a mix of EU parliament (good from my point of view) and the commission (an indirection of an indirection of vote, chosen mainly by power play).

I am far from being a specialist in the subject, but I don't like what seems to be the pervasive behavior from "Brussels" which seems to be to sidetrack the voters. I believe that some of that spirit probably "spilled" into the treaty. Avoiding referenda is just a emergence of that underlying trait.

And I don't understand the need for complexity. No way. That is the best way to alienate the voters. For me is strange that I (an European) understand quite well the American system, but fail to grasp the intricacies of our own.

Actually, if you take out lobbying and the dual-party system, the American system would be an interesting starting point, here is a recipe:

Take or leave the president (but elect it, if he has any significant power)
Have a senate with limited power (equal representation per country, each country decides their own rules)
Have a congress (but do it single circle, proportional. 5% of the votes in the EU would get you 5% of the seats. Get a cut in value of x% if you want.). Give it power. This would hopefully reinforce political differences (as opposed to national differences).

Silly starting point? Maybe, but is simple and democratic.

The current complex hodge podge will only alienate people.

Again, take my comments with a grain of salt. I have given up trying to completely understand what for me is an overly complex system.

by t-------------- on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 06:43:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
tiagoantao:
I am far from being a specialist in the subject, but I don't like what seems to be the pervasive behavior from "Brussels" which seems to be to sidetrack the voters. I believe that some of that spirit probably "spilled" into the treaty. Avoiding referenda is just a emergence of that underlying trait.

Whether or not a member state decides to have a referendum on a particular Treaty or agreement is entirely a matter for the member state (and it's constitution) and nothing whatever to do with Brussels.

However the very fact that you think it is all part of a Brussels conspiracy is interesting - perhaps a manifestation of the tendency by national governments to blame everything on Brussels even if a decision is all their own doing?  The Brussels Bureaucracy of Eurosceptic mythology is about the size of Birmingham City Council....

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 07:01:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, not a conspiracy, an understanding. It isn't that Brussels have a volition of their own different from the member state governments. It's the use of the EU procedures as a pretext - and the rules as they are seem very convenient for a particular political agenda (and it's an agenda as we might possibly agree that isn't at all for a closer and more democratic union).

For example: the move towards a re-statement of the Constitutional Treaty as the Lisbon Treaty and the side-stepping of national referenda on the issue wherever possible, was certainly orchestrated. It's a moot point to argue if its the governments or the Council that did it. There's a fuzzy area somehow that disguises and obscures the wheelings and dealings and leaves pretty much no one actor clearly accountable.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 08:59:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps, but considering the lamentable pseudo-democracies run by many EU governments, have you considered that Brussels may actually be more democratically inclined than London, Paris, or - for all anyone knows - Dublin?

Suggesting that Brussels is 'anti-democratic' has to be the biggest joke of the moment given the lack of good bottom-up representation in most of the EU's national parliaments.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 10:26:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whether or not a member state decides to have a referendum on a particular Treaty or agreement is entirely a matter for the member state (and it's constitution) and nothing whatever to do with Brussels. [emphasis mine]

That is true in the same sense and to the same extent that it is true that all countries have an equal say in the Council. Purely in terms of the letter of the law, you are, of course, correct. In terms of realpolitik... not so much.

Now, if you want to argue that the Council can not sidestep referenda without the active collusion of the relevant state government, and therefore the lack of referenda is at least partially the fault/achievement of those same state governments, I will have no objection.

But I would ask that for the sake of honesty it is acknowledged that at least the Danish government could not have sidestepped a referendum without the active collusion of the Council. So by the same standard, the Council shares a part of the blame/credit for sidestepping it.

---------

I shall take the Danish example here because it is the one with which I am familiar, not because I think it is exceptional or even particularly unusual:

As originally scheduled, Denmark was going to hold a referendum on the Constitution. Partly because it was constitutionally mandated, but mainly because there was an overwhelming political support for a referendum. Both among the parties in parliament and among the voters. It would likely have passed too (I'll spare you the political analysis tea-leaf reading).

Then France and Holland happened.

And all of a sudden, the Constitution had become the Lisbon Treaty, which we are assured by all the Very Serious People is totally different from the Constitution. Despite all the independent lawyers the Danish newsies have been able to dig up claiming that it is pretty much the same, give or take ten percent.

But something else had happened in the meantime. The Danish government's lawyers had gone over the draft treaty with a fine-toothed comb, and extracted all the passages that would require a referendum under the Danish constitution. [1]

After the Danish government's lawyers had been so kind as to point out exactly which parts of the treaty were "problematic" from the point of view of avoiding a referendum, those parts were disappeared from the text of the treaty.

Last time I checked, the Council drafted the treaties.

- Jake

[1] A note is in order here, on a peculiarity in the Danish constitution (or at least the way it has been interpreted since 1973). In Denmark, there is a constitutional requirement that all acts that surrender sovereignty be put to a referendum. But the operative definition of sovereignty is (or at least has been since 1973) the transfer of jurisdiction.

So according to this particular legal fiction, there will be no transfer of sovereignty under Lisbon. In particular, it is not a surrender of sovereignty when the Union goes from unanimous agreement to majority or qualified majority vote on an issue on which it already has jurisdiction.

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 03:31:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course the EU Governments, acting in Council, decided to avoid referenda if at all possible because of a fear that it would only take one defeat in one country for the whole house of cards to come tumbling down.  The big mistake was not to have made enlargement conditional on a new constitution with rationalised decision making processes put in place and ratified by all.  The vote on the Constitution would then have - effectively - been a vote on enlargement which most people see as being "a good thing" and a great end to the Iron Curtain.

Now the EU as a whole is effectively held hostage to the domestic politics of one member - and this is being exploited ruthlessly by the NO side in Ireland who can argue - plausibly - that Ireland will be able to hold the EU hostage and negotiate a better deal - for Ireland - before putting it to a vote again.  

That may well happen -as it did with Nice - with the Government holding a second referendum on a slightly changed set of proposals. However if even one other EU Member fail to ratify these changes, then the whole thing unravels all over again.

Allowing one Demos of 4 Million people to hold 400M to hostage is not a good example of Democracy in my book and highlights the fatal flaw of the EU as it is currently constituted.  Of course the No side will trumpet any changes made as a consequence of a no vote as a triumph of Democracy, and it is:  For Irish Democracy.

However the European project as a whole will be destroyed if each member can hold all others to ransom every time a significant voting block within it tries to stretch its muscles.  And its not as if the NO side have any internal coherence - they are opposing the Treaty for wildly differing reasons, and there is no chance of crafting amendments that will satisfy all within Ireland, never mind the 26 other Member states.

So we will have a HUGE MESS where a diverse collage of small minority groups in Ireland will be able to claim - in the name of Democracy - to have halted the European Project as a whole - despite the fact that - in general terms - the European project is supported by a large majority of Irish and Europeans.

So yes - call it a conspiracy on the Council if you wish - but I support the fact that no one member democracy should be able to trump all others and I think this is precisely the sort of situation the Council were trying to avoid.  

The Eurosceptics have been able to portray this to a gullible electorate as an example of closed door, back room deal making by elitist bureaucrats in Brussels- when in reality it is anything but:  It is an agreement by member Governments that they want to pool Sovereignty a little more and avoid a situation where any one of 27 Members can hold all others to ransom on every issue.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 05:56:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Now the EU as a whole is effectively held hostage to the domestic politics of one member - and this is being exploited ruthlessly by the NO side in Ireland who can argue - plausibly - that Ireland will be able to hold the EU hostage and negotiate a better deal - for Ireland - before putting it to a vote again.  
This happens every time. It happened in Denmark over maastricht, it happened in Ireland over (was it Nice?), it happened in France and the Netherlands over the "Constitution", and it's happening again in Ireland over Lisbon.

You would think after 15 years they would have figured out that the consent of the governed is a serious matter and flaunting it can lead nowhere.

The problem is that constitutionally the EU is an international treaty organization and in order to change that (in one of the many ways that have been proposed here over the past 3 years) you need to agree to a "final treaty" with the same ratification problems that have dogged the previous ones. And in this case it would probably be wrong on many levels not to submit the "final treaty" to a referendum.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 06:05:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Lisbon Treaty is in the tradition of small incremental steps - the most 27 Governments can agree on.  Of course transforming the EU from a collective of 27 members states into a democratic superstate would and should require direct approval by citizens in all member states, but barring WW3, that is simply not on the agenda any time soon.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 07:18:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that constitutionally the EU is an international treaty organization and in order to change that (in one of the many ways that have been proposed here over the past 3 years) you need to agree to a "final treaty" with the same ratification problems that have dogged the previous ones. And in this case it would probably be wrong on many levels not to submit the "final treaty" to a referendum.

your logic is impeccable!

if the EU wants to extol and embody democratic ideals, and nurture an informed, participatory electorate, then what you say has the inexorable force of truth.

and if it comes to pass in this way, it will loosen the many knots that bind us to practices whose time has come to fade.

we can only have real 'democracy' in europe that would be right on so many levels, when the institutions are not afraid to put such important issues to the verdict of referenda, because the voters have clearly understood the issues from the get-go, and have contributed to solutions through hashing out solutions in an open-source style, such as we do here at ET, but scaled up and much better tuned to the call and response of political blogging..

we see the inklings in andris' blog, and also how very far there is to go before this kind of co-creation between ministers, statesmen, institutions and we the public who pay for them gets out of diapers.

the journey of a thousand miles...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 06:44:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
The Eurosceptics have been able to portray this to a gullible electorate as an example of closed door, back room deal making by elitist bureaucrats in Brussels- when in reality it is anything but:  It is an agreement by member Governments that they want to pool Sovereignty a little more and avoid a situation where any one of 27 Members can hold all others to ransom on every issue.
Are you defending the Council now? They operate through backroom deals, they have resisted making their deliberations or at least their voting records public (so they cannot go back home and "blame Brussels"), they are the easiest of the three EU bodies for industry lobbyists to influence. Bleurrgh. We only need to have it because Europe is not a nation but a multinational entity and even if (long shot here) it becomes a Federal state something of its sort will still exist.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 06:09:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Are you defending the Council now?

I don't have a problem with democratically elected heads of Government meeting privately as well as publicly and hammering out deals which involve compromises and give and take.  That is what politics (and business) is often largely about.  If you are against that you have a very idealistic and unrealistic view of how things happen in the real world.  The Good Friday Agreement could never have happened without a lot of behind the scenes maneuvering, back channel communications, private deals, public posturing, false trails being set, and often even a degree of duplicity.

All of this is a lot more preferable to people being murdered - in my view.  

Of course transparency, accountability, and good faith negotiations are also positive goals to have, and sometimes the process used can be even more important than the outcome - because it builds trust, a positive political culture and enables greater changes in the future.

But in politics you are always starting from where we are, not where we would like to be, and we are currently in a hole and trying to dig our way out.  Small incremental steps is all we can do because we only have a relatively weak set of EU institutions and change processes to begin with.  Wishing it were otherwise does not make it so.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 07:32:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with you except on the papering over of the fact that the National goverments consistently promise one thing at home, then vote the opposite in Brussels and then blame Brussels. If everyone goes back home and claims they didn't support the decision and the decision needs a qualified majority or unanimity, a majority or all of them are lying, and they do it often.

And nobody calls them on it, but the incompetence of the press (and the politicians in the opposition) is a different matter.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 08:26:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, I believe askod touched on this - there is the issue of different levels of removal from the democratic base:

  1. We The People
  2. Whom we elect: representatives (and MEPs, Presidents), who don't represent all already, ojnly a majority
  3. Whom our reps elect: governments (and PMs), who represent only the majority of the reps
  4. Whom our governments delegate: Council participants, who represent only the dominant opinion in the government
  5. Whom the Council chooses: the President of the Commission, who represents only the majority/smallest common of the Council
  6. Whom the governments delegate and the EP apprives, but for whom the President of the Commission picks a job: the Commissioners

Thus, ever higher levels have ever less democratic legitimacy and ever less democratic control. (This is why we'd prefer a Commission in effect dependent only on the EP, pulling it back to level 2.) Maybe I should also add a 2-) level, for the government majority in parliament.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 10:01:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Grooks by Piet Hein
MAJORITY RULE

His party was the Brotherhood of Brothers,
and there were more of them than of the others.
That is, they constituted that minority
which formed the greater part of the majority.
Within the party, he was of the faction
that was supported by the greater fraction.
And in each group, within each group, he sought
the group that could command the most support.
The final group had finally elected
a triumvirate whom they all respected.
Now, of these three, two had final word,
because the two could overrule the third.
One of these two was relatively weak,
so one alone stood at the final peak.
He was: THE GREATER NUMBER of the pair
which formed the most part of the three that were
elected by the most of those whose boast
it was to represent the most of the most
of most of most of the entire state
-- or of the most of it at any rate.
He never gave himself a moment's slumber
but sought the welfare of the greater number.
And all people, everywhere they went,
knew to their cost exactly what it meant
to be dictated to by the majority.
But that meant nothing, -- they were the minority.



When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 11:22:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
The big mistake was not to have made enlargement conditional on a new constitution with rationalised decision making processes put in place and ratified by all.
You can blame Aznar from single-handedly delaying the approval of the "Constitution" until after 2004 over a disagreement on voting weights in the Council. After 2004 the Polish Twins took over from him.

If we could have had the referenda in early 2004 it is quite likely Chirac wouldn't have lost his.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 06:15:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Take or leave the president (but elect it, if he has any significant power)
Have a senate with limited power (equal representation per country, each country decides their own rules)
Have a congress (but do it single circle, proportional. 5% of the votes in the EU would get you 5% of the seats. Get a cut in value of x% if you want.). Give it power. This would hopefully reinforce political differences (as opposed to national differences).
You know you're describing the German system, right?

Anyway...

The European Council is the equivalent of the US Senate or the German Bundesrat already.

The European Parliament is already elected by proportional representation within each member state and is as proportional as you can get with the range of population between Malta and Germany.

The European Commission is the equivalent of the Executive branch.

The odd feature of the EU is that the executive branch has legislative initiative on paper. National democracies tend to follow Montesquieu's system on paper where legislative initiative is vested on the parliament, but in practice because the government is only viable with a parliamentary majority backing it, the parliament is not independent from the government and legislative initiative in practice belongs to the government. This is true both in European parliamentary systems, and in presidential or semi-presidential systems such as in the US, France and Russia. So, in fact, it might be a good thing that the EU makes this explicit.

I like the codecision procedure and I prefer that the Parliament has a veto over the Commission's legislative proposals than having a president with a veto over the parliament's proposals.

Personally I think the EU needs to look not to the US or even Germany as a model because the EU is a far cry from being a federal state, but probably Switzerland and India are good case studies - Switzerland's consensus system and the way the federal council is appointed is similar to the "undemocratic" EU structures. India is a large federal state with lots of ethnic, linguistic and economic inhomogeneities like the EU. I would throw South Africa into the mix also as a case study, possibly as a counterexample, but it also has a large number of linguistic and ethnic groups it has to juggle with.

People are not alienated by the complexity but because the national political elites have an interest in acting as a boundary alienating the EU from the people.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 03:10:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think one big difference with any potential federal models is that the EP elections aren't for EU-wide, but national parties/lists.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 03:48:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Ge many you have that with the CDU/CSU, and in Spain the United Left and the Socialists both have an explicitly federal structure and differentiated local party names are extending beyond the traditional peripheral regions. On the other hand, due to the national-constituency vote in the European Parliament elections in Spain, nationalist parties from three different regions ran a single list: Galeusca.

I don't see the problem you raise as long as, say, the PES member parties put the PES logo next to theirs on campaign literature.

Without a single nation-wide constituency -which federal states tend not to have either- the distinction between national parties with local branches and federated local parties seems academic.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 04:40:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a bit more than academic - for example, with the exception of the three nationalist parties, those federations have clearly defined leaders and leadership structure. That's not the case for any European party I know of.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 05:26:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to mention the nifty problem of how I could vote Greens-EFA or PEL in Hungary...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 05:37:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, in Spain you can vote for the United Left everywhere but you can only get the elected to parliament in Madrid or Barcelona (and with luck in Valencia) due to the fact that they poll around 5% and there are very few constituencies with around 20 seats or more and we don't have - as they do in Germany statewide but not nationwide - a mixed-member proprotional system for overall proportionality.

So, if you'd like to see a mixed-member proportional system with national/regional constituencies and an EU-wide list for overall proportionality, I'm with you on that. But even Germany doesn't have that. Do the Greens, FDP or Linke fail to get any seats in some Länder? In that case you could say "I have the problem that I my vote for Linke/Greens/FDP in such-and-such Land doesn't count".

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 05:59:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and you can't get the Greens elected either except in Barcelona and possibly in Valencia where the United Left local party is actually a Green Left.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 06:28:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and you can't get the Greens elected either except in Barcelona and possibly in Valencia where the United Left local party is actually a Green Left.

to have the nous to vote for the greens implies responsibility and vision, two qualities that stand in opposition to many short-term, elitist and recalcitrant agendas that still hold sway over european decisions.

it has been mostly a quixotic/romantic gesture up to now, but it's good that there is at least some mapping of possible interfaces between industry, the unions, and the public's desire for a greener world, (as long as nothing has to be sacrificed!).

as oil prices continue their dizzy climb, institutions are stretched beyond capacity, and millions of ex-truckers and fishermen seek new employment, methinks the green platforms, even underbuilt as they are will be the only ones that will help point to a more sustainable use of human energy to produce quality of life.

lotsa gardening...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 12:19:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Germany, there is the compensation system between the states. In Hungary, there are separate proportional seats for county and countrywide lists.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 06:40:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the compensation system the "overhang seats"?

How does the Hungarian system work?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 06:45:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the compensation system the "overhang seats"?

Nnno, but the two are connected.

In Germany, representation in any one of the state or federal parliaments is enough to have party lists in every state (lacking that, one has to collect signatures for every state list). But the number of seats given depends primarily on the total (federal) vote share of the party.

So, what happens with surplus votes? Say if in one state, the Green party list only got half the votes needed for a single state? And in another state, the Green list got votes enough for two and a half mandates? Then there is a complicated system that distributes the rest votes, which even involves changes in the total number of MPs from a single state. In the example, either the first state sends 1 and the second 2 Green MPs, or it's 0 and 3.

(Overhang mandates result from the combination of proportional and direct vote: a party's proportional share of mandates in a state is first filled up from direct mandates, the rest from people on the state list; but if the direct mandate holders outnumber the proportional share, they still go to parliament. The compensation system obviously affects this: for one party in one state, the minute shifts in other states can mean one more or less proportionallly deserved seats.)

How does the Hungarian system work?

Just as complicated :-)

Hungary is no federal state, nor do regional units have much influence. But historically, the units called megye (=shire) had significant autonomy (there were 64 in Austria-Hungary times, now 19 + the capital). So they got a role in the election system.

Though based on the German one, here the direct election dominates. Already at nomination level: you have (1) collect signatures for every direct mandate candidate, (2) you can erect a shire party list if you have candidates in a fourth of the constituencies of the shire, (3) you can eret a countrywide party list if you have at least seven shire lists.

Then in the elections, you vote for direct mandate and shire list. Then first there are direct mandate winners (just short of half the total), and mandates from the shire lists (about a third of the total). Then all the rest votes from BOTH votes - that is: votes above/below what resulted in a mandate from a shire list, and votes on a party's losing direct mandate candidates - are added together, and proportionally to that, the rest of the mandates are handed out to the countrywide lists.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 09:37:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That will come.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 05:54:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not until you get a true Europe-wide media space...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 07:50:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But do we need a clear hierarchy and structure in the pan-European parties? The US parties (such as the Dems) don't really have them. It's all very local and at the national or even state level it becomes personality-based.

All you need is prominent European allies and candidates to come take part in national campaigns - this has begun to happen already: the French Presidential candidates came to Spain to get media exposure and international endorsements, and also to support the Spanish parties in their own campaigns.

Whether that sways the voters remains to be seen, but they're beginning to do it.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 07:56:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if it's only a name, the "Democratic party" is clearly a national structure in a way the PES certainly ain't.


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 08:43:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...because the national political elites have an interest in acting as a boundary alienating the EU from the people.

thankyou!

i feel this very strongly in italy.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 12:06:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The question is not whether you like the Lisbon Treaty, it's whether you prefer it to the Nice Treaty - and also, whether you want Europe to be "going forward" or to "be paralysed."

And, actually, the Lisbon Treaty does increase the European Parliament's power - and that parliament is in the best position to actually exert that power when "Europe is going forward."

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 04:07:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PS - thanks guys, for the promotion and edit - should have used a text box myself...

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 03:52:07 PM EST
ireland.com - Breaking News - Poll shows Lisbon heading for shock defeat
Poll shows Lisbon heading for shock defeat

Stephen Collins, Political Editor

The Lisbon Treaty is heading towards a shock defeat with the No side now in the lead, according to the findings of the latest Irish Times/TNS mrbi poll.

It will take an unprecedented swing in the last week of the campaign for the Treaty to be carried.

The poll shows the number of people intending to vote No has almost doubled to 35 per cent (up 17 points) since the last poll three weeks ago, while the number of the Yes side has declined to 30 per cent (down 5 points).

The number of undecided voters is still a significant 28 per (down 12 points) cent, while 7 per cent won't vote.

The massive increase by the No vote since the last poll has mainly come through gains among undecided voters but, even more ominously for the Yes side, it has lost some support to the No camp.

While the final outcome is still in the hands of undecided voters, the clear momentum is now with the No campaign, and it will take a dramatic shift in public attitudes over the next few days for the Yes side to win.

The swing to the No camp has not been prompted by domestic considerations, with just 5 per cent of those opposed to the Treaty saying they are influenced by a desire to protest against the Government.

The reason most often cited by No voters is that they don't know what they are voting for or they don't understand the Treaty, with 30 per cent of No voters listing this as the main reason for their decision.

The poll was conducted last Tuesday and Wednesday among a representative sample of 1,000 voters in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all 43 constituencies. It was taken in the middle of the controversy over the World Trade Organisation talks.

That issue came to a head on Tuesday afternoon with the announcement by the Irish Farmers' Association that it would support a Yes vote following the declaration by the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, that he would use the veto to block any deal unacceptable to Ireland if the issue was put to a vote.

The poll showed that farmers are opposed to the Treaty by 34 per cent to 31 per cent. The No majority among working class C2DE voters is much bigger with Labour voters shifting in large numbers from the Yes side. It indicates that opposition to the Treaty expressed by some trade unionists is having an impact.

In class terms, the Yes campaign is only ahead among better off ABC1 voters. Fianna Fáil voters continue to back the Treaty, but even in that category the No campaign has made massive strides in the past three weeks with a gain of 15 points to 25 per cent, while the proportion of Yes voters has fallen by five points to 42 per cent.

A clear majority of Fine Gael voters are now against the Treaty by 40 per cent to 30 per cent, while among Labour voters there has been a massive turnaround with the No side almost doubling its support to 47 per cent with 30 per cent of party supporters in favour.

Ironically, given the party's previous stance on the EU, the strong support for the Treaty comes from among Green Party supporters.

Sinn Féin voters are overwhelming in the No side in line with their party's position.



"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 04:09:28 PM EST
What sort of drooling idiot fuck "Political Editor" would call this a shock defeat? Are these people paying any fucking attention at all? It's been perfectly obvious that there was a high chance it would fail since the media have been giving a pack of marginal crazies equal time with the pack of uninspiring mainstream politicians. Half the media have been campaigning against it, and the turn in the economy more-or-less guaranteed failure, as did the half-hearted support from the opposition parties.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 04:33:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It IS a bit of a surprise to the political establishment and to the Irish Times bubble inhabitants in particular - how could such an inchoate collection of marginal groups defeat all the main political parties and organisations?  Nice was a similar shock - the only good thing about this is that it may shake them out of their complacency in time.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 05:44:12 PM EST
a.
"Now all the 27 Governments of its member countries have asked us to do our bit to help the EU perform more effectively and efficiently in a world with a whole new range of challenges - wars in the middle east, global warming, peak oil, mass food shortages, and human rights violations world wide."

 Do you think that the governments now in charge view the challenges in the middle east and the EU reaction in the same way as you do? The same way as each other? I mean among these 27 government are governments who thought this whole "let's invade Iraq" idea was great. Ditto on peak oil, global warming, mass food shortages and especially "human rights violations world wide": certainly not in Gaza, certainly not in Iraq and certainly many of these governments were complicit in illegal rendition to the CIA run torture-houses around the globe. Does "more effective" mean, for the now dominant ideological predilection in European politics, the same thing it means to you?

b. The almost identical Constitutional Treaty was rejected by referenda in two European countries and is repackaged and enforced the hard way. "The expressed wishes of all their democratically elected governments", is something of consequence no doubt; the expressed opinion of the voters of two countries is of greater consequence however - democracy-wise at least.

c.

"Let us ratify the Lisbon Treaty and move on to even greater things"

When embarking on a car you are not driving you might want to be absolutely sure that the driver is going where you're going, otherwise you might be in for some unpleasant surprises.

I understand that the people advocating "No" in Ireland are a distastful bunch mostly - however I'm with this lady on this issue (and I don't get to vote over here).

Having said that, just the fact that the LT pisses off wingut central across the pond makes me have second thoughts... ;-)

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Thu Jun 5th, 2008 at 09:08:44 PM EST
Having said that, just the fact that the LT pisses off wingut central across the pond makes me have second thoughts... ;-)

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 03:15:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
talos:
Do you think that the governments now in charge view the challenges in the middle east and the EU reaction in the same way as you do? The same way as each other?

No I don't - not for a moment.  But the whole point of pooling Sovereignty and having weighted majority voting in more areas is that it enables decisions to be made even when there are wide disparities of views amongst member states

The Lisbon Treaty isn't about  having a specific view on say - Iraq or rendition - it is about creating structures which, over time, will allow the EU to come to joint decisions on such issues -  despite such differences.

Rendition could happen because most EU members are not strong enough - on their own - to resist pressures to cooperate with the US.  Collectively, as the EU, with a stronger Presidency/High Commissioner for External Affairs and a legally binding Charter of Fundamental Rights, it would be much more possible to develop a much more assertive joint policy on the issue - even if Berlusconi or a few wingnuts thought otherwise.

Its what being in a UNION is all about - the collective can be stronger than the individuals on their own - and greater than the sum of the parts.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 06:15:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Rendition could happen because most EU members are not strong enough - on their own - to resist pressures to cooperate with the US.  Collectively, as the EU, with a stronger Presidency/High Commissioner for External Affairs and a legally binding Charter of Fundamental Rights, it would be much more possible to develop a much more assertive joint policy on the issue - even if Berlusconi or a few wingnuts thought otherwise.
Not if, as has happened, the Council is willing to bend over backwards to satisfy US needs over the better judgement of the Commission and Parliament (this happened over airline passenger data).

Nor if, as happened with the missile shield, the visa waiver and again over passenger data, the US can enter into bilateral agreements with individual member states, who are only happy to oblige.

Our political class has only one interest at heart, which is to get reelected. If there is any strategic vision it's in the "undemocratic", "unelected" civil service(s).

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 06:18:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Council is there primarily to try to develop minimal lowest common denominator areas of agreement between member state Governments acting in their own national self-interest.  As such it will always be the least "European", federal, "strategic" or integrative of EU institutions.  

In the long term the development of the EU project depends on the Parliament and Commission becoming more influential.  However this cannot happen for so long as it is possible for the "Council" made up of democratically elected Governments - to represent itself as more Democratic that a "civil service" Commission or a toothless Parliament.

The Lisbon Treaty represents a small structural adjustment in this balance of power.  It won't change "atlanticist" national leaders overnight or stop narrow nationalist leaders from being elected in member states.  However by slowly developing the possibility of the deveolpment of a stronger European Demos it at least allows the possibilty of a "Europeanism" narrative to become more influential relative to an "Atlanticist" one.

As it stands, Atlanticism is almost the only game in town as far as really serious people are concerned because the US is the only world superpower and can largely dictate the terms of trade and discourse.  Our current generation of leaders reflects that reality.

We have to change that reality - by developing a stronger set of EU institutions and Demos - and then locally elected leaders will gradually come to reflect more of that reality.  Bertie Ahern couldn't afford to piss off Bush over Shannon.  What if his successors had to become more concerned about pissing of Brussels or the EU Parliament?

It's about power, stupid, and about where it resides.  And right now it still resides far more in Washington and New York than anywhere in Europe - despite the collective success of the EU at the economic level.

The US is a political giant despite having a faltering economy and dysfunctional electoral system.  The EU is still a political minnow despite having a strengthen economy.  We have to create political structures in Europe more in keeping with our collective economic strength and the challenges facing us in the world - and we have to do so in a way which enables a far more rational response to global issues than the US is currently capable of providing.

The Lisbon Treaty is a very small step towards that.  It will be a triumph for US hegemony, atlanicist Euroskepticism, petty minded nationalism, faux democratic populist "socialism", and religious fundamentalism if it is defeated.  It will be a very small triumph for the EU project and a more humane world order if it is passed.  It won't change the culture of EU leadership overnight, but it will help to create a more mainstream alternative to atlanticism as the only game in town.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 06:51:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not just about power for Europe.

We cannot build a great power and then attempt to prevent it from behaving like a childish playground bully. Every historical attempt to do things that way around has failed. We will have to structure a European great power in a way that makes it incapable of acting like a traditional great power. Otherwise, we will end up screwing around the same way that the Americans presently are.

I am increasingly convinced that you cannot separate institutions from policy. And if the institutions that we build enshrine a policy that we do not want with the force of constitutional law... then we might be better off delaying and sabotaging until we have pushed a zeitgeist that permits us to construct institutions that enshrine policies we do like with the force of constitutional law.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 08:23:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jake's concerns over the EU becoming a great power are also shared by me. That is why i am not a federalist any more.
On the other hand, a No to the Lisbon Treaty at the Irish referendum could, perhaps, dictate the end of the EU.

How have we come to such instability?

Most of our highest political representatives are not leaders any more; they don't have visions of the future; they are popularity poll managers and submissive to the media moguls who erected them above their peers in public visibility.
Short-sightness is not restricted to leaders only. Every time I log to ET I learn something, but there is something I cannot understand: how can an important percentage of us accept the entrance of such a big country as Turkey to the club, when England alone is already a formidable blocker. Can you imagine the rise in complexity of the power games in Brussels? It will become basically a 4-player game, and the most frequent alliance geometry will be a rectangle (2 versus 2).

The EU is associated to an ideal. I suppose near all of us have that a version of that ideal. However, it also something more visible than that: it is a very reasonable business arrangement. That should be expressed more often, namely by the Irish Government.

Personally, i think the NO vote to the constitution made by the French and Netherlanders was very positive, since it put some break in the corporate friendliness of the European Commission and demonstrated the popular opposition to the entrance of Turkey in the EU.

It is hard to understand what will be the effect of a rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Sat Jun 7th, 2008 at 09:37:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the Lisbon Treaty is rejected we'll see more "enhanced cooperations" and no progress on a common foreign policy.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 7th, 2008 at 09:46:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How do we know that?

If I were a betting person, I would put my money on a NO resulting in either a special deal for Ireland (like Denmark and the euro) or a new referendum to get it right. Or possibly a combination of those two.

Guess that is why I do not really care, I suspect it will not make any real difference.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Jun 7th, 2008 at 10:16:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because integrationists have been making noises about enhanced cooperations, two-speeds, core Europe, Europe with variable geometry, etc since the Treaty of Amsterdam (and getting louder in the last couple of years) and if the Treaty of Lisbon fails that will be the only way forward and it will be taken.

I also don't believe that the same text can be put to referendum in Ireland, though something like that was done for Denmark after Maastricht and also for Ireland after Nice.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 7th, 2008 at 10:30:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see why you assume that the world with a European superstate would be any worse than the world without a European superstate. I don't exactly see the other great powers of the present day behaving particularly responsibly. The case that I am making is merely that unless we take the time and effort to make sure that the European project is as well protected as possible, it is unlikely to make the world any better either.

So we can afford to wait a few years - or even a few decades - if it means that we get to forge into the very bedrock institutions a preference for soft power over hard power, for social justice over lobbyist influence and for a policy of genuine security over neo-colonial securityness policy.

In short, I predict that the political playing field is going to be tilted by the very architecture of the EU institutions, and we had better make sure that it is tilted in our favour.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jun 7th, 2008 at 10:30:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
don't see why you assume that the world with a European superstate would be any worse than the world without a European superstate. I don't exactly see the other great powers of the present day behaving particularly responsibly. The case that I am making is merely that unless we take the time and effort to make sure that the European project is as well protected as possible, it is unlikely to make the world any better either.

So we can afford to wait a few years - or even a few decades - if it means that we get to forge into the very bedrock institutions a preference for soft power over hard power, for social justice over lobbyist influence and for a policy of genuine security over neo-colonial securityness policy.

In short, I predict that the political playing field is going to be tilted by the very architecture of the EU institutions, and we had better make sure that it is tilted in our favour.

I'm not sure whether the "you" here is directed at me or not - a couple of glasses of wine can make it difficult to assess the indentation sequence of comments.  (Can we have aligning lines in ET 2.0 please?)

I don't disagree with your main thesis that the governing structures and culture you create can constrain your policy options - that is the essence of structuralism.  However we are also not living in an ideal world where you can afford to wait, almost indefinitely, for ideal structures to emerge.  Sometimes an opportunity only comes once, and if you miss that, regression is more likely than progression.

As a youthful idealist I would always have preferred big bang radical revolutionary changes over wish washy incremental liberal reform.  Now I will take any incremental step in the right direction because I have had too much experience of small defeats leading to even bigger defeats.  A small step in the wrong direction doesn't make a big step in the right direction any easier - in fact it can destroy the prospects of positive reform for a generation.  Hence my sometimes ill-conceived impatience with ideologically pure revolutionaries who succeed in destroying the prospects for any limited improvements by insisting on nirvana or death.  Death always seems to win.

I have a fundamental problem with a unipolar world order because there are no effective domestic or international checks and balances to the overweening hubris of the ruling elite of the dominant power.  Therefor a bipolar - or better still, a multi-polar world order is preferable provided that there is an international system of law and institutions capable of moderating and sublimating the tensions between.

Therefor I believe a strong EU is a good thing, ipso facto, even if I might have strong misgiving about the policy priorities such a strong EU might pursue. It is still better than where we are now.  Also a paralysed EU project might give more encouragement to proto-fascistic tendencies both within and without the current EU boundaries.

In summary, please do not assume, for a moment, that a rejection of Lisbon will give us the opportunity to create something better.  Far more likely it will be a victory for narrow nationalism, eurosceptic atlanticism, free market business ideologues, religious fundamentalists and racists a la Le Pen, Sinn Fein, the BNP, and Aznar/Berlusconi like protofascism.

Passing Lisbon, on the other hand, will not herald either a perfect or a radically more powerful EU on the world stage.  It is just a very small, boring, and imperfect step in the right direction - of a type which will enthuse almost no one - but at least it will keep the lid on those whose enthusiasms we can better do without.  In terms of direction and momentum it may be but a small thing, but it can also be the straw which broke the back of the European Project as conceived by its founders.  It means that the neocons who sought to destroy the UN, international law and any countervailing momentum to US hegemony will have won.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 7th, 2008 at 03:50:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]

As a youthful idealist I would always have preferred big bang radical revolutionary changes over wish washy incremental liberal reform.  Now I will take any incremental step in the right direction because I have had too much experience of small defeats leading to even bigger defeats.  A small step in the wrong direction doesn't make a big step in the right direction any easier - in fact it can destroy the prospects of positive reform for a generation.

Yes!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jun 7th, 2008 at 04:04:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that you are being optimistic - overly optimistic - if you think that the world will become a better place simply by virtue of having one more great power. Britain  disliked the emergence of the German Empire as intensely as the US dislikes the emergence of China and the EU (and the re-emergence of Russia) as world powers. That does not, in and of itself, make the German Empire a Good Thing.

If your argument is simply that a multi-polar world is preferable to a bipolar or unipolar - irrespective of the policies of the great powers, then China and Russia (and India) are taking up the slack nicely without the EU. Further, I am not quite confident that you are right about that premise. Some of the worst atrocities in human history happened in the very much multi-polar 19th century.

If your argument is that the Lisbon EU will be able to stop torture flights through Union airspace... well, the member states are also able to do so, if they want to. If you were to argue that the Lisbon treaty would obligate the EU (and/or the member countries) to put a stop to torture flights - and if you were to argue that the obligation would be enforceable (as in there being a realistic chance that it could be enforced against the wishes of individual governments), then you would have a case. Otherwise...

On balance, a treaty that gives more power to the parliament at the expense of the Council is probably a good thing, assuming that it doesn't contain any serious land mines. But simply arguing that the treaty is good because it gives the EU more muscle is naïve, because that line of argument assumes that the EU is inherently more noble than the other global great powers. And I see no evidence of that.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jun 10th, 2008 at 05:44:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
AT this stage  I think I could argue that the political blow that would be delivered to the EU by rejection would do enough damage to justify passing Lisbon.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 10th, 2008 at 05:49:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[Colman's Crystal Ball of Doom™ Technology]

Please elaborate on the likely political consequences.

If Ireland doesn't ratify it, the UK probably won't either and then we can just throw the British Isles out </snark> or just sit back and wait for the SNP and Plaid Cymru to win referendums on independence to stay in the EU, followed by an Irish referendum in the same direction.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 10th, 2008 at 05:52:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The narrative damage is what I'm thinking of: more failure, EU is undemocratic and disconnected etc, etc. It means going around again for another couple of years while we sort out the post-enlargement changes, or something.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 10th, 2008 at 05:58:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Only the countries in green have completed the ratification so far.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 10th, 2008 at 06:01:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was unable to connect yesterday. Therefore i had more time to think in your words.

I am not worried with a generic EU becoming a superstate. I am worried with an EU with a European Commission and European Council which have become more less concerned with actual people and more with corporations interests lately. It is that EU that i don't want to see stronger.

If, however, that tendency is stopped and even reversed, than a stronger EU becomes acceptable. After all, a superior model of administration and production leads to the relative accumulation of resources and to the external perception of success, both leading to increased influence over rival organisations (other countries). History may be a sequence of thievery and abuse at large-organisation level, but there is progress, as thieves are generally replaced by better, smarter, ones.

Perhaps to create a more distinct form of organisation we may need to risk what we have now.

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Mon Jun 9th, 2008 at 11:03:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the arguments have been well marshalled and articulated from both sides, and whilst before i felt more in sympathy with the 'no' vote, not really getting jerome's pain that time around, now after feeling the passionate conviction of your arguments, frank, i feel my position shifting.

the only remaining benefit of a no vote would be to persuade the 'parrs that be' to do a better job defining what this treaty/constitution really is trying to be, thereby immunising the voters against the kind of instrumentalisation that some er, nefarious agents are engaging in, profiting from the information gap to delay unification, for their own far from disinterested agendas.

i came to ET to learn more about energy and economy, this education in the intricacies of 'creating a superstate 101' is a fantastic bonus...

thanks to all for making this thread especially instructive.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jun 6th, 2008 at 07:00:34 PM EST
Many thanks Melo, but it's not even about creating a superstate 101 - an enterprise about which many progressives would also have misgivings.  

It's about trying to enable the continued expansion of the EU into the Balkans, about trying to avoid a paralysis which is inevitable when one state out of 27 or more can veto all significant change, and its about enabling the EU to have a greater "balancing" influence to the US in international relations - more in keeping with its approximate economic equality.  

Iraq/rendition could happen because there is no effective or united countervailing force to US hegemony.  Atlanticism reigns supreme in European Elite political culture because there is no significant mainstream "Europeanism" alternative.

Brussels and the EP must come to be seen as a realistic alternative centre of power to Washington/New York.  We have a very long way to go, but the Lisbon Treaty could be a mall step on the way.  Without it the US can continue to divide and conquer Europe and ignore it at will.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 7th, 2008 at 08:58:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is a very good description of what is at stake, Frank. Thanks for this very important diary.
by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Sat Jun 7th, 2008 at 09:41:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just found these, I assume they are not very representative. Just as with the NO posters, the worst tends to get more attention.

Still...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jun 9th, 2008 at 09:29:02 AM EST
She doesn't look too happy - looks like she's weighing the burden.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 9th, 2008 at 09:37:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are always some who will lower the tone of the debate!!  First I get frontpaged and now I'm on page three. Let's hope the Treaty doesn't end up on the death notices page...  

It's very tight at the mo - another survey yesterday showed a very slight majority in favour.  Mainstream political parties are really starting to mobilise, but it may be too late.  

It will all depend on the turnout - and perhaps the weather.  On such fine distinctions history sometimes turns

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 9th, 2008 at 11:33:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another attempt at an MSM friendly polemic....

Madam - Plan A was the European Constitution.  Plan B is the Lisbon Treaty.  If the Lisbon Treaty is rejected, plan C will be for the major European players - Germany and France - to agree a simplified constitution which they can feel comfortable with.  They will then invite all other EU members who wish to do so to join them on their terms.  Most will choose to do so, because many could not progress without a European Union.  

Some, like a Eurosceptic Britain or a Sinn Fein led Ireland, may choose not to do so.  They will be left to wither on the vine.  One thing is certain: Germany and France will not allow the continued development of the  European Project to be vetoed by smaller countries like Ireland.  They want more countries - particularly in the Balkans - to join, and that can't happen whilst every single member can veto all meaningful progress.  

27 democratically elected European Governments unanimously agreed that Lisbon was the best way forward for all.  4 Million people dictating to 400 Million is not democracy.  Only American neo-conservatives - who are afraid that a resurgent EU might develop into a countervailing force to the US in world affairs - will benefit from a failed EU project.

The status quo is no longer an option, and anyone who think so doesn't realise how rapidly the world is changing - and how much Europe is being ignored and left behind in Global affairs - e.g. Iraq, renditions, global warming, energy shortages, and human rights violations.  

It may already be too late, but the Lisbon Treaty is our last best chance to develop Ireland and Europe into a meaningful force for good in world affairs.   If we reject it, the world will carry on without us.



"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 9th, 2008 at 12:50:02 PM EST
What Charter of Fundamental Rights have they ever offered us?

the 1916 proclamation just for starters

and there's nothing in that that says it come second to economic capitalist interests

by lostexpectation on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 10:34:20 AM EST
Well, there's this
Article 6
(ex Article 6 TEU)

  1. The Union recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 7 December 2000, as adapted at Strasbourg, on 12 December 2007, which shall have the same legal value as the Treaties. The provisions of the Charter shall not extend in any way the competences of the Union as defined in the Treaties.
    The rights, freedoms and principles in the Charter shall be interpreted in accordance with the general provisions in Title VII of the Charter governing its interpretation and application and with due regard to the explanations referred to in the Charter, that set out the sources of those provisions.

  2. The Union shall accede to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Such accession shall not affect the Union's competences as defined in the Treaties.

  3. Fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, shall constitute general principles of the Union's law.


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 10:38:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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