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President Sarkozy puts his foot in it

by Frank Schnittger Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 05:48:00 AM EST

President Sarkozy is reported as having told French Politicians at a lunch in the Elysee Palace today that "the Irish will have to vote again".  This runs directly in the face of the Irish Government's request at the EU Council that:

  1. The Irish people's vote be respected

  2. That the Irish Government be given time to analyse the result and come forward with proposals to address the issues raised by the campaign at the next Council meeting in September or December.

The timing is particularly unfortunate in that Sarkozy is due to visit Dublin on Monday and it was hoped that he would do so in "listening mode".

Topical, since Sarkozy is now in Dublin - afew


The Irish Minister for External Affairs has been on Irish national radio engaging in damage limitation and supporting the right of our European partners to have their own view on the matter.  

In an attempt to mollify irate callers to the programme he insisted that the Irish Government would listen to all views and then make its own decision on the matter in it's own time, that no decisions had been made to date, and that any final decision would be up to the Irish electorate.  Some callers to the programme claimed to be Yes voters who would vote no if a second referendum were held at the behest of the French President. "What part on 'NO' does he not understand?" seems to be the most popular response

The Irish Times' Paris based journalist Lara Marlowe stated that the President had probably spoken in an unguarded moment at a private meeting but allowed that it was also possible that he was expressing some frustration and seeking to put pressure on the Irish Government.

Given the sensitivity of the "national identity", "European Elite", "respect for democracy", and big countries dictating to smaller countries memes in the referendum campaign, Sarkozy's intervention can best be described as unhelpful and ill-timed.

Ireland has to hold second referendum - Sarkozy - The Irish Times - Tue, Jul 15, 2008

Sinn Féin described Mr Sarkozy's comment as "deeply insulting to the Irish people".

Spokesman Aengus Ó Snodaigh said: "In the month since the Irish people voted overwhelmingly to reject the Lisbon treaty, we have listened to a succession of EU leaders lining up to try and bully and coerce us into doing what they want."

He said: "The fact is that the people have spoken and the Lisbon Treaty is dead. The ratification process should stop and the leaders of the EU must negotiate a new treaty.

"There can be no question of rehashing the Lisbon treaty and putting it to the people again. EU leaders need to listen to what the people of Ireland, France and the Netherlands have said about the contents of this Treaty," he added.

Declan Ganly of Libertas suggested on the radio that An Taoiseach should ask Sarkozy to hold a second referendum in France given that the Lisbon Treaty is substantially the same as the defunct EU Constitution.  He noted that Sarkozy has himself said that a second referendum in France would be defeated and that his attitude exemplified the anti-democratic nature of the EU project.

However in the longer term I doubt whether this spat will have any influence one way or the other.  Sarkozy is treated with some bemusement in Ireland and Carla Bruni will probably be the bigger attraction on his visit.

Le Monde is reported as floating the possibility that the Treaty will be amended to allow each country retain a Commissioner and that additional protocols could be added to give assurances on the (in any case largely irrelevant) issues raised in the referendum campaign.

Meanwhile Ireland has to hold second referendum - Sarkozy - The Irish Times - Tue, Jul 15, 2008

Earlier today, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said he did not expect any more countries to reject the Lisbon treaty after the Irish No vote.

Addressing the Italian parliament, Mr Barroso said Polish president Lech Kaczynski had reassured him his country would not block the ratification of the treaty. Mr Barroso also said the Czech Republic would also be no obstacle.

"There has only been one No to the ratification of the treaty, and I do not expect any more," Mr Barroso said.

Perhaps it is all part of a pincer movement to let the Irish know they are alone on this issue. However it sounds much more like inept diplomacy.

Display:



"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 Tue Jul 15th, 2008 at 04:26:40 PM EST
When I come to Dublin on Friday, I think I am going to pretend I am from Belgium, or Canada...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Jul 15th, 2008 at 05:10:55 PM EST
I presumed you were part of the entourage....you don't fool me...I KNOW you are one of his henchmen.  Having set up a Mediterranean Union you now want to ensnare Ireland into NATO.  The island of saints and scholars is onto you!  I've arranged a meet-up with Cowen and Sarkozy in Dublin Castle after lunch - its just around the corner from the restaurant.  Tell the girls to bring their Carla posters....  no doubt there will be a say "non" to Sarkozy demo.

"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 Tue Jul 15th, 2008 at 05:44:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It might also be wise to conceal your membership of the Brethren of Caol Ila or even Carla-ola. ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 06:20:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Correct me if I am wrong, but have not both Sinn Féin and  Libertas called for renegotiation? - a process which, if taken to its logical conclusion, would necessitate another referendum.
by det on Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 05:15:53 AM EST
Don't look for too much logic in their positions, but yes, technically that is the position, as neither want to be seen as anti EU.  I'm sure they will also campaign against any amended/augmented Treaty Cowen might negotiate, but Sarkozy has just made it easy for them to oppose by suggesting a re-vote before amendments/additions have even been considered.

"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 Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 06:36:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but I do wish someone would point the logic out to them. In addition I don't think the complete lack of any of the context in which Sarkozy spoke should simply be accepted without question. Basically we have an isolated second-hand quotation being flogged by people with a dubious record of accuracy when it comes to such matters.

Perhaps he pronounced "The Irish will have to vote again." with lofty distain; or perhaps he said "We will do all we can to address the concerns of Irish voters, but even then the Irish will have to vote again because it is constitutionally mandated". I wasn't there, but then again neither were Libertas or Sinn Fein.

by det on Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 09:37:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From today's Irish Times front page story:

Ireland will have to vote again on Lisbon, says Sarkozy - The Irish Times - Wed, Jul 16, 2008

FRENCH PRESIDENT Nicolas Sarkozy's declaration that Ireland will have to hold a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty has caused quiet fury within the Government, just days before he visits Ireland.

During a meeting with deputies from his UMP party at his office in Paris yesterday, Mr Sarkozy, according to quotes from a number of those in attendance, said: "The Irish will have to vote again." The UMP deputies repeated the remarks to journalists waiting outside.

On Monday, the French president will travel to Dublin for a five-hour visit and hold meetings with Taoiseach Brian Cowen. He will also meet some of those from the referendum campaign's Yes and No camps.

The president's advisers did not deny that Mr Sarkozy said Ireland would have to vote again, but six days before the president's July 21st visit to Dublin they attempted to limit the damage.

"It was a closed meeting," a source at the Élysée said. "Therefore, we have no comment about what was said. But it is not at all the president's state of mind to say what was said coming out of this meeting. The president's state of mind is: he accepted, at the invitation of Monsieur Cowen, to go to Ireland to listen and understand the reasons that led the Irish to vote No. He is absolutely not taking a ready-made solution in a suitcase to impose it on the Irish."

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin told RTÉ the Government received "subsequent clarification" that Mr Sarkozy "is coming to listen and not to impose a solution". Mr Sarkozy was "entitled to his point of view", Mr Martin said, but he stressed "no option has been decided upon . . . the bottom line is it's up to Ireland to decide".

The idea that the EU might agree to allow all members to keep a permanent commissioner to satisfy Ireland is gaining currency.

A headline in Le Monde newspaper yesterday announced: "The efficiency of the commission could be sacrificed to the Irish."

An adviser to Mr Sarkozy said: "Apparently the fear of losing a commissioner was a factor in the Irish No."

"It is difficult to say in what proportion. Personally, I think it would be catastrophic for the commission to remain as big as it is today. Will that be the price to pay for a new, positive vote by the Irish? I don't know . . . is that what will make the Irish vote Yes? Frankly, I have no idea."

A key question is what text Mr Sarkozy wants the Irish to vote on - the treaty as it is, or with appended declarations to calm Irish fears.

"We don't yet have the information we need from the Irish authorities, who at the same time want to take their time, see how serious things are and know they have to hurry a little," said the adviser at the Élysée. "Should people be asked to re-vote on the same text, or should there be certain statements about things like neutrality, the commission, abortion . . . It's too soon to say."

In Washington, meanwhile, Declan Ganley, the leader of Libertas, one of the leading organisations in the No campaign, said it would be ridiculous and anti-democtatic to have a second Lisbon Treaty referendum but if one was called, he predicted an even larger No vote rejection.

He said that Libertas was raising funds across Europe and was considering turning next year's European Parliament elections into a pan EU proxy vote on the Treaty.



"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 Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 11:45:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it is fair to say that from an Irish perspective, a lot of this is about timing and about how a re-vote comes about.  Any sense that the Irish Government is caving in to foreign pressure is disastrous from a yes vote perspective.  By next June (EU Parliament elections) the economic and political climate could be very different, but it is critical to the case for holding a second vote will be a sense that it is different in both substance and context and that therefore a re-vote can be justified.

Otherwise you can just add to all the No voters the abstainers and Yes voters who don't like being pushed around by some foreign dude who thinks he is a big shot.

"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 Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 11:49:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Catching up belatedly on this string...not quite sure what it is that is bothering Mr. Schnittger, since to all appearances Mr. Sarkozy is echoing pretty exactly Mr. Schnittger's comments a week before.  (A Tale of Two Letters).  
And btw - I have residence in both Cavan and New York, and was brought up in Cavan.  I just had a feeling that the NY address might raise an eyebrow or two, and Mr. Schnittger duly responded as hoped.
Cheers!
Gregory Grene
by Gregory Grene (Gregory [at] prodigals [dot] com) on Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 02:19:38 PM EST
Welcome to ET!  Perhaps you might write a Diary on ET explaining why you think that all of Ireland's current woes can be put at the door of the Nice Treaty.  We need that sort of discourse here.

For the record, I do support Lisbon, but was appalled by the campaign run by the Yes side.  A second referendum will also be defeated - possibly by a wider margin - unless it is clear that clarification of some contentious issues has been achieved, Irish concerns have been taken on board, there is no sense of Ireland being bullied and there is a wider commitment to greater transparency and accountability within the EU - starting with the EU Parliament elections next June.

Sarkozy's intervention is precisely what we do not need if there is to be any prospect of a Yes vote if there is to be a next time.

BTW I also support the right of the other 26 Member states to go their own way and create a new Lisbon based EU leaving Ireland behind in a one member Nice EU.  It's hardly democratic for one Government representing 4 Million to tell 26 Governments elected to represent 500 million what they can and can't do - now is it?  

In my view, that is probably what will happen if a second referendum is defeated - and then Ireland will be headed back to the dark days of the 50's and 60's.  I Don't think that is what 90% of No voters want - although some fundamentalist nationalist zealots want precisely that and they successfully hid that agenda from the electorate.

It is ironic that we are so good at lecturing Northern Unionists on the need to share power with nationalists, but when it comes to sharing power with 26 other Governments we suddenly become ultra-nationalists and want everything our own way.

I know there are many people within other member states who also oppose Lisbon and that is fair enough.  However it is the ultimate arrogance and conceit for Ireland to claim the right to tell other democratically elected Governments how to run their countries - particularly when they have other constitutional arrangements which may or may not include provision for referenda.  

The other governments will be perfectly within their rights to cast Ireland adrift and do their own thing in their own way if Ireland should seek to go its own way again.  No one can force them to remain in a Nice EU or stop them from creating a Lisbon EU if they decise it is in their best interests to do so - and their electorates continue to elect pro-Lisbon Governments.

I am hoping it won't come to that, but Sarkozy's remarks run the risk of sharpening the divide between Ireland and the other 26 member states still further.  Maybe that's fine from a New York perspective, but I doubt most people in Cavan will be too happy to go back to being outside the EU.

PS I referenced your US address because we have heard rather a lot from US based Irishmen such as Declan Ganly of Libertas with close links to the US defense establishment and who oppose Lisbon because it might impede the ability of the US to conclude bilateral agreements with individual European States on rendition, missile shields etc. - agreements that a common EU Foreign policy and Foreign Affairs representative might make more difficult to conclude.

I have no difficulty with anyone with any address expressing their views on Lisbon - but in a few cases there is at least a suspicious that some posed as patriotic Irishmen when in fact they were working for very different interests indeed.  I don't have a problem with US neo-cons opposing Lisbon, but I would like more clarity as to who's interests they serve.  I suggest it is not in Ireland's interest to alienate the other 26 Member Governments and that is what we are becoming perilously close to doing.

"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 Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 03:58:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank, with all respect, you're distorting what I'm saying, and your own arguments are fairly reminiscent of the non-sequiturs that were used for Nice.
Just dealing with a couple points, as I need to tie up a bunch of other stuff:
I didn't say all of Ireland's woes can be placed at Nice's door.  This is a distortion and a basic logical fallacy - I said that the results of Nice for the common man were pretty much uniformly bad.  All cats are grey, doesn't mean all grey animals are cats.  And I think you'd have a very hard time arguing that Nice was good for the average man-on-the-street in Ireland.  
But there was no end of the same guilt-mongering when chivvying the Irish to vote yes on Nice - about how Ireland had been underprivileged, and didn't the Irish owe it to share the wealth.  The answer is, no, not if they couldn't afford to.  Politicians are paid to secure the best possible situation for their constituents, not sell them down the river for either moral salve, or payola.
The folks who really saw benefit from Nice are transnational industrialists and investors, who can utilize the cheapest possible labor, and sell/invest to the greatest profit, and that is ultimately screwing the common citizen.  Folks aren't stupid or misled when they think they got screwed.  They did.
The threats about leaving Ireland behind - really.  First, that won't happen - nowhere in the charter does it say, the Irish will submit constitutional amendments to referendum, but that if they vote differently, they'll be chucked out.  Second, you're saying a), that Ireland is not bullied, because the Irish are allowed a voice; but (b) that voice should not be allowed, because it's running contrary to what other countries' politicians want, who have in fact usurped their own constituents right to speak on the topic.
Sarkozy is a bullying twerp, and his approach is wholly antagonising; but while his style is different, the gist of what you, he and Roger Cohen are saying is not a million miles apart. It's discounting a valid response from the voters.
No idea re the neocons.  I can't stand them myself, I think their creed is largely hateful and the effects endlessly destructive.  However, I would suspect they would see Nice and Lisbon, in the same light as NAFTA, and side with you in supporting them, as all three benefit the tycoons and the power brokers while hammering the little guy.
by Gregory Grene (Gregory [at] prodigals [dot] com) on Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 07:29:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, as far as the neocons go, we know what they think about Lisbon. They don't like it, and they've said as much. Loudly and unmistakably. Nor do their friends in the US mil-ind complex, judging by which side they're sending their money to...

'Course that doesn't prove anything in and of itself: The British Empire didn't like the unification of Germany either, but that does not in and of itself mean that Bismarck's Germany was a force for good in the world...

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 10:21:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gregory Grene:
a), that Ireland is not bullied, because the Irish are allowed a voice; but (b) that voice should not be allowed, because it's running contrary to what other countries' politicians want, who have in fact usurped their own constituents right to speak on the topic.

The Irish can do and say as they want, subject only to the constraints of their Constitution and previous Treaty obligations freely entered into. Anybody (including Sarkozy) who thinks they can't be bullied is in for a rude awakening.

However the same applies to the other 26 Member nations subject to the same constraints - which may be different in each case.  Which means they too can proceed to implement Lisbon without Ireland.  Bottom line, the EU is a powersharing arrangement.  If Ireland wants to go a different route, or stay where it is whilst the others move on, it is perfect welcome to do so.  What it can't do - under any Treaty signed to date - is stop the others moving on.

You may not be a neocon, but you certainly share the explicit neocon and Murdoch Newspaper agenda of re-defining democracy as direct popular democracy on specific issues.  Whether you are I like it or not, many EU countries have almost no tradition of plebiscites.  They elect and defeat Governments to make decisions on their behalf on complex matters.  An Opinion poll is not a form of democracy.  Even the UK has only has a mechanism for conducting a plebiscite since the 1973 Local Government Act.  (And neither does the USA conduct plebiscites on specific issue - Switzerland is one of the few countries to do so)

So your familiar rant about Ireland rescuing the people of Europe from the machinations of their politicians (or the Brussels bureaucrats who are completely irrelevant to this debate) is so much waffle designed to cover up that you - like the neo-cons - claim the right to tell individual EU democracies how they should run their democracies.  (Incidentally, Sarkozy campaigned for the Presidency saying he would not hold a referendum on Lisbon).

I very much doubt you have ever read the Nice Treaty or can point to any specific deleterious effects it has has on those you so patronisingly call "the common man" in Ireland.  A generic rant against globalising capitalism just won't do.  The EU (and France/Germany) have a much stronger track record of regulating its excesses that the US/UK.  Nice has helped to strengthen, not weaken, those regulatory and democratic controls.

Once again I invite you to write your own diary arguing (and evidencing) your case that Gregory Grene:

the results of Nice for the common man were pretty much uniformly bad

You have to date not given a scrap of evidence to support that assertion - either in the Irish Times or here.  It comes straight out of Neo-con/Murdoch propaganda machine whether you realise it or not.  NO ONE on the NO side in Ireland argued that case in any case.  They argued FOR the Nice status quo.  (Some are, indeed against Ireland's membership of the EU per se, but kept that agenda well hidden as they knew they would lose overwhelmingly if that became the issue at stake).

Over to you.  Evidence please.

"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 Jul 17th, 2008 at 07:24:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whether you are I like it or not, many EU countries have almost no tradition of plebiscites.  They elect and defeat Governments to make decisions on their behalf on complex matters.

I'm always somewhat suspicious of politicians who want me to vote on compllex treaties. After all I really dont want to spend my life reading through the paperwork in much the same way as I dont want to read the licences that come with computer software. Fortunately I am paying some other poor fool to read the documentation and come to a considered opinion. If they are not going to read the treaty and do their job, why should I pay them?

Insisting on a referendum on the treaty means they're avoiding their responsibilities because they think theyve already lost the argument.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Jul 17th, 2008 at 07:32:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Per Wikipedia, "The term common man is used to emphasize the similarities or distinctions between a member of a social, political or cultural elite, and the average citizen."
Pretty standard usage, Frank.  If there were condescension around, I'd say it'd be on your end.
Anyway, signing over and out -
Best,
G
by Gregory Grene (Gregory [at] prodigals [dot] com) on Thu Jul 17th, 2008 at 11:54:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Asking for evidence or facts to justfy an assertion is not condescension. I thought Cavan people considered themselves to be the elite - or at least as good as anybody else - but I will defer to your greater local knowledge on that.  Anyway - nice to have had you around.  Feel free to contribute your tuppence whenever the spirit  moves you.  As I said earlier, a diversity of views is always welcome here, even if we sometimes do ask for evidence to justify an assertion.

"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 Jul 17th, 2008 at 12:45:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I said that the results of Nice for the common man were pretty much uniformly bad.
Since correlation is not causation, what uniformly bad developments have we seen in Ireland since 2002 and how are they a consequence of Nice?

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 06:44:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No idea re the neocons.  I can't stand them myself, I think their creed is largely hateful and the effects endlessly destructive.  However, I would suspect they would see Nice and Lisbon, in the same light as NAFTA, and side with you in supporting them, as all three benefit the tycoons and the power brokers while hammering the little guy.
I don't think so: the neocons see a strong EU as a counterweight to the US and don't like it one bit. See Who is really served by the Irish "no?" by euamerican on 06/14/2008.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 06:48:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The folks who really saw benefit from Nice are transnational industrialists and investors, who can utilize the cheapest possible labor, and sell/invest to the greatest profit, and that is ultimately screwing the common citizen.  Folks aren't stupid or misled when they think they got screwed.  They did.

The answer to this is EU economic governance, such that you have the power to limit the raise to the bottom facilitated by a free trade zone. A prime example for that would a some kind of tax harmonization. Would you support such a step? It has been Ireland so far which has been profited by giving excess to the European market to international cooperations, without taxing them properly.

Another solution would be to withdraw from the Union outright and erect trade barriers to protect Irish labor from competition.

You should make clear where you stand. It is not enough to reject the Lisbon treaty, but then to turn around and demand a solution from those "elites" you profess to despise.

by rz on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 08:10:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do support Lisbon, but was appalled by the campaign run by the Yes side.
The problem is that the Member States' governments seem to think that we owe it to them to vote yes, so they don't even try.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 06:43:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Incidentally, for an additional viewpoint bolstering Mr. Schnittger's pespective, check out Roger Cohen's New York Times editorial, The Muck of the Irish.  The same stew of guilt-mongering and finger-wagging, but I remain strangely unconvinced...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/19/opinion/19cohen.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

by Gregory Grene (Gregory [at] prodigals [dot] com) on Wed Jul 16th, 2008 at 02:29:58 PM EST
What a stretch, comparing the two elections of GWB to the Irish rejection of Lisbon. Cohen writes a polished column, sure. The contents are much less coherent than the language. As Barack Obama winds his way on his imperial progress through Europe, I remind EU readers and Europeans in general that my people are not what they seem. I know my people, they never fail not to disappoint. Such high expectations cannot be met.
by Quentin on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 10:13:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't worry - we expect to be disappointed.  He is, after all running to be POTUS not POTEU, and doing so on a centrist, bringing Republican's and Democrats together ticket. (That's equivalent to bringing the neo-fasists and tORIES/cHRISTIAN dEMOCRATS/conservatives together in Europe).  However he has himself noted that Reagan changed the trajectory of the US whereas Nixon and Clinton did not.  So perhaps he is setting a higher standard for himself.  Whatever.  He's better than Bush Lite.

"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 Jul 21st, 2008 at 10:33:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It it rather unclear what Cohen wants to say in this column, he starts out with the Lisbon Treaty and Ireland and then discusses EU membership of Turkey. Those issues are only peripheral related.

Enlargement is what started this whole mess, therefore what Europe really needs is...more enlargement! Brilliant.

by rz on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 11:18:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some in the US see the EU as a mechanism for anchoring Turkey in the Western as opposed to the Islamic camp.  Not sure most Europeans feel the same way about it.  Personally I don't think it's likely Turkey will join even with Lisbon, but there is no way it an happy without Lisbon.

"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 Jul 21st, 2008 at 11:31:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some callers to the programme claimed to be Yes voters who would vote no if a second referendum were held at the behest of the French President.
As if there was any need for more evidence that the "Constitution"/"Reform" treaties were defeated on procedure and not on content.

The European Council, supposedly in charge of giving political direction and impetus to the EU, is bankrupt in political capital.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 06:38:59 AM EST
Migeru:
The European Council, supposedly in charge of giving political direction and impetus to the EU, is bankrupt in political capital.

There is no sense in Ireland that the Presidency of the Council confers some kind of democratic legitimacy on Sarkozy to comment on Irish affairs as anything other than a visiting head of Govt./State.  At best the 6 Month Presidency provides a good excuse for a visit to foreign capitals.  I think this latent nationalism is also behind the opposition to us losing "our" Commissioner, even though the Office is independent of Ireland.

I know I have railed against the conflation of Democracy with direct democracy by plebiscite and see it as ironic that that agenda is pushed by Neo-cons when there is no provision for plebiscites on specific issues in the USA.   However I think that there may also another factor at work here:  In the era of internet access and instant media coverage/comment, people are less and less happy with "politicians" acting as middlemen on their behalf by making such decisions through parliamentary vote.  People want more and more of a direct say - even when they complain that texts like the Lisbon Treaty are far to complex for them.

Sooner or later the EU is going to have to grasp the nettle and implement more direct democracy within the EU - perhaps though a directly elected Presidency, or through the Commission being appointed by Parliament.  Either way the Council will lose some of its power base.  The fact that all its members are elected heads of their national Governments  does not seem to confer much democratic legitimacy on their collective actions as far as many people are concerned.

I personally don't like the idea of a directly elected President.  The thought of a US style election fills me with horror, and smaller countries will probably never succeed in electing a President on a direct vote count basis.  But perhaps it may be the only way to increase popular participation and legitimacy in the EU Government process.

"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 Jul 21st, 2008 at 09:06:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no sense in Ireland that the Presidency of the Council confers some kind of democratic legitimacy on Sarkozy to comment on Irish affairs as anything other than a visiting head of Govt./State.
Umm, the Lisbon Treaty is not just an Irish internal affair. And the President of the Council gets to tour the 26 other capitals because his job it is to broker political agreements to be trumpeted at the quarterly summit.

Anyway, already in the consolidated treaty of Nice:

Article 4

...

The European Council shall provide the Union with the necessary impetus for its development and shall
define the general political guidelines thereof.

...




A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 09:18:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm responding to your point about the Council's lack of political capital.  Its a political/cultural problem, not a technical legal problem.  Irish people have no role in electing Sarkozy - therefore they will not take their instructions from him. Period.  You/I can lecture as  much as we like about powersharing, previous Treaty obligations yadda yadda yadda.  Sarkozy doesn't speak for the Irish - and by presuming to do so he is swelling the NO camp with every word.

"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 Jul 21st, 2008 at 09:44:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I personally don't like the idea of a directly elected President.  The thought of a US style election fills me with horror, and smaller countries will probably never succeed in electing a President on a direct vote count basis.  But perhaps it may be the only way to increase popular participation and legitimacy in the EU Government process.

horrible thought, i agree. that's what spurred the anti-blair petition for me, he was tailor made for that kind of truman show.

the us election is a triumph of empty bombast, prolonged almost to tantric proportions...

odin forbid we take that road too, national elections are traumatic enough. how do they have time to do anything useful when they're campaigning to the lcd?

having said that, i find barrack a whole new ball game, and i'd love to see a leader that elegantly astute rise up here in yurp too. only someone of that calibre might convince me.

signed, a bit jealous.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 01:58:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I personally don't like the idea of a directly elected President.  The thought of a US style election fills me with horror,

Correction: We do not have direct elections for President.  We have the Electoral College.  If we did have direct elections, Gore, having won the popular vote, would have been elected!   Which is why I'm all in favor of direct elections!  

Russia has direct elections for President.  I think it's rather enlightened of them.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 02:17:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the correction - although I think anyone who follows the US elections will be well aware of the distinction - which makes the Murdock/Neo-con conflation of democracy with direct democracy that bit more absurd still.

In practice "direct" election for an EU President would also have to be via an electoral college - perhaps based on EU Parliamentary representation - so as to give smaller countries some incentive to agree to the proposal.  All of which raises the question of why not have the EU Parliament "elect" the President and be done with it - most EU heads of Government are indirectly elected to their office by their Parliament.

Part of me feels the problem of the "democratic deficit" in the EU is almost impossible to resolve - especially as the EU expands.  The fact is that a polity of 500M people can never be as close to the voters as a polity of 4M.  People just have to get used to the fact that we now live in a globalising world and many decisions must of necessity be made at a much more global 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 Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 02:30:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, such defeatist Euro-thinking!  Lol.  Sorry.  Seriously, why can't you have Europe-wide direct elections?  I bet that'd solve all your Constitution problems.  A Europe-wide, direct, popular vote.  Do it.  Also, it's soooo European of people to see everything in terms of pandemonium or civility.  Behaving civilized isn't an indicator of fairness.  So bring on the horror/fairness that is a direct election.  Lose the obsession with everyone behaving appropriately and embrace the madness which all politics are under their facade. :)

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 02:45:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are direct elections to the European Parliament next June!  At present there are over forty parties in 8 Groups so you are spoiled or choice even if you can only vote for those candidates/parliaments standing in your constituency.

As for civility, it's not an issue.  There's plenty of controversy.  What we don't have is 100 of Millions of Euros of private money being used to fund campaigns and lobby groups which are so influential because of their access to money/media.

Also the registration, voting and vote counting processes tend not to be controlled by partisan/commercial interests so their is more confidence in the process.  So if not having an electoral system which is quite as corrupted as the US system is to be defeatist, I'm quite happy to be a regarded as a loser!

"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 Jul 21st, 2008 at 03:00:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What we don't have is 100 of Millions of Euros of private money ...

I mentioned it in a Salon de News Thread, but I thought it might be appropriate to mention it here again:


Irish 'No' vote architect plans Europe-wide 'referendum' on Lisbon Treaty

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Ganley disclosed that he was starting to raise £75 million from online donations to run candidates in all 12 of Britain's European Parliament constituencies, and in seats throughout the EU.

by rz on Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 10:41:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep - he's importing US methods (and interests) into the EU polity - we need better disclosure laws and contribution limits to stop the subversion of our democracies by corporate and foreign interests

"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 Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 11:04:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"subversion" should be "further subversion".
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 11:08:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Presidential elections - whether direct or semi-direct are by necessity First Past the Post elections. Judging by the US and UK, FPtP elections seem to do Bad Things to your political culture.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 10:10:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it's Sarkozy, we're talking about. He's one of these "decisive" "dinamic" "leaders" we get nowadays, who have no understanding of diplomacy. The timing of the French Presidency is disastrous. It would be much better to have a country of less than 10 million people "in charge" of the "political direction" of the EU at this juncture.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 06:41:43 AM EST
I'm an under-informed American so I won't try to comment on the Irish vote/Sarko situation.  

But, if you compare the quality of discourse at ET between now (the Schnittger/Grene exchange) and at this time last year, I think that ET has made a quantum leap forward.

Bravo!!!!

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 09:32:45 AM EST
very civil, i agree.

ET is so gentlemanly sometimes, often, mostly.

a yob can learn some couth here

i should know, lol

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 02:05:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you been deyobed or couthed?

"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 Jul 21st, 2008 at 02:17:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i wish...

tha's for me to aspire to, and you to decide!

seriously, i'm always gobsmacked (yobspeak) by differing opinions openly expressed without rancour.
it's been all too rare in my world-experience.

perhaps i need to frequent a more distinguished, elevated group for social discourse...

scratch, grunt

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 02:57:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nah - we need to have some bottom feeders on ET as well to provide some colour and controversy.  We can't have everything discussed in grey bureaucratic or academic modulation.  Just look at Poemless trying to stir things up above!

"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 Jul 21st, 2008 at 03:03:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you calling me a "bottom feeder"?!  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 03:07:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are the Manta ray of modern political analysis...

"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 Jul 21st, 2008 at 03:12:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Manta ray of modern political analysis.

Mantas are filter feeders: they feed on plankton, fish larvae and the like, passively filtered from the water passing through their gills as they swim. The small prey organisms are caught on flat horizontal plates of russet-coloured spongy tissue, that span the spaces between the manta's gill bars.

Mantas frequent reef-side cleaning stations where small fish such as wrasses and angelfish swim inside the manta's gills and all over its skin to feed, in the process cleaning it of parasites and removing bits of dead skin.

The predators of the Manta ray include mainly large sharks, however in some circumstances orcas have also been observed preying on them.

Mantas are extremely curious around humans, and are fond of swimming with scuba divers. Although they may approach humans, if touched, their mucus membrane is removed, causing lesions and infections on their skin. They will often surface to investigate boats (without engines running). They have the largest brain-to-body ratio of the sharks and rays.[2]

Mantas are known to breach the water into the air.

Sounds about right, though technically not a "bottom feeder."  

Well, if I'm the Manta ray of modern political analysis, ET's my reef-side cleaning station, and you are my angelfish!  Lol.


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 03:42:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Manta ray - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Manta rays are believed by some to have evolved from bottom-feeding ancestry, but have adapted to become filter feeders in the open ocean.

In other words, you have evolved into a higher form of life and can be quite graceful, at times.

Thanks for the offer, but I'd prefer not to be your cleaner fish

"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 Jul 21st, 2008 at 04:39:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
uh . . . nevermind!  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 02:59:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
do bottom feeders stir 'up'?

please folks, this is a family blog, lol

the title of this diary really sets the tone...

someone's gotta do it, valuable eco-niche bla bla

:)

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 03:19:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's right.  Start a row and then walk away pretending to be above such things.  You've been known to stir things up yourself!

"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 Jul 21st, 2008 at 04:45:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
moi?

heh

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 08:09:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In a good way, if course!

"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 Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 09:20:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
of course!  (Not to be misread as 'if coarse')

"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 Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 09:21:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, I'll bite.  What's a yob?  Sounds like a setup for a bad pun.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 02:35:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
slang term for an uncouth blue collar individual or thug; - or the opposite of a snob

"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 Jul 21st, 2008 at 03:05:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
bad puns are an oxymoron

morons should go easy on the oxygen

any punning at all here is considered extremely bad form, ask sven and ceebs!

right down there with astrological tabagistas

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 03:15:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am such a sucker!

"tabagistas"?

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 03:51:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
devotees of the 'sot-weed factor'

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 08:08:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No No No.  I may be Mr. Nice-Guy but I'm not stupid enough to keep going down this road.  I'll live with my ignorance.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 02:30:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr. Nice guy?

"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 Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 02:56:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh yeah.  Raised myself on comic books in the early '60s.  Was warned by my 10th grade English teacher/football coach/ex-marine that "nice guys finish last".  Yup, that's me.

Doesn't mean I won't provide and operate the guillotine in public when the time comes; just means I consider myself on the morally proper side.  Those comic books.

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Jul 23rd, 2008 at 07:11:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks.  Nevertheless Mr. Grene seems to have taken his leave - probably because he could not substantiate his claims about the Nice Treaty.  You can't be polite enough for people who just want their prejudices endorsed without question.

"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 Jul 21st, 2008 at 02:33:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
After a lot of messing around with the arrangements the Sarkozy visit has finally happened and he has impressed most of the people he met with his level of energy and engagement.  

He is currently speaking at a news conference and expressing his confidence in Brian Cowen's ability to find a way forward that will allow all 27 Members to move forward together.  He has acknowledged that many who voted no are still attached to the EU and that it will take time to to come up with a solution acceptable to all - in Ireland and in the other 26 Member states.

Crucially he denied, for the first time, ever saying that "the will have to voe again".  If that is the case, it is extraordinary that that meme has been allowed to hang in the air for so long without being denied.  It has seriously derailed the Irish Government attempts to diffuse controversies post the referendum and chart a way forward, and an earlier denial would have been helpful.

Questions at the news conference included:  Is further enlargement possible without Lisbon?  Sarkozy:  Even under a best case scenario enlargement will take time - at least 3 years - which gives us some time to come up with a solution.

"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 Jul 21st, 2008 at 01:25:00 PM EST
As I suggested immediately after the result, Sarkozy has suggested privately to the Irish Government that a second referendum could be held at the same time as the EU Parliamentary elections next June - and that the Treaty be amended to provide for no loss of Commissioners and some protocols giving assurances on some of the other issues raised in the Irish referendum campaign.

Sarkozy accepts there is no quick fix to Lisbon crisis - The Irish Times - Tue, Jul 22, 2008

During a hectic day of meetings in Dublin, Mr Sarkozy denied he had told French MPs last week that Ireland had no choice but to hold a second referendum.

Although the Government is now keen to postpone a resolution until after the European Parliament elections next June, Mr Sarkozy proposed during private talks that a second poll should be held on the same day. Under the Sarkozy plan, which was made to Irish surprise, the strategy would be announced at the EU summit next December in Brussels.

The timetable is likely to meet with fierce resistance from other member states, particularly those who would lose MEPs if the Nice Treaty rules are used again.

In addition, each EU state would be guaranteed a European Commissioner, while Ireland would also get declarations - which have persuasive effect, but are not legally binding - on abortion, defence and other issues concerning Irish voters.

Furthermore, Mr Sarkozy made clear during a two-hour meeting with Yes and No campaigners that he does not want common EU corporation tax rates, though some common rules to understand the rates in place would be helpful.

Despite fears the visit could turn into a diplomatic disaster, Mr Sarkozy went to considerable lengths to display empathy with Ireland. He repeatedly accepted, during separate talks with Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Yes and No campaigners, that a solution could not be found by the time the French six-month EU presidency ends in December.

He said he did not "have a miracle solution that could be produced with a wand", adding that the Irish people must give their opinion on the next steps.

Sarkozy accepts there is no quick fix to Lisbon crisis - The Irish Times - Tue, Jul 22, 2008

A decision to run the elections under the Nice Treaty - which dictates a smaller parliament than allowed by Lisbon - would mean that 50 serving MEP seats would be abolished.

The use of the Nice Treaty - if agreement could be found among EU states - would require legislation in some member states, but not Ireland, which is already to lose one seat in the next election regardless of which set of rules is used.

I'd say that will go down well amongst our EU partners.....

"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 Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 at 07:07:39 AM EST


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