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The balance of anger and fear

by Frank Schnittger Thu May 17th, 2012 at 05:14:45 AM EST

I've been away out of the country for a while and out of touch with the referendum debate raging in Ireland concerning the Fiscal Stability Treaty. So a seminar in Trinity College Dublin on the topic led by a lawyer, an economist and a sociologist seemed like a good way to get back into the topic. The speakers were:

  1. Dr. Gavin Barrett, School of Law, University College Dublin (Voting YES)
  2. Prof. Terrence McDonough, School of Business & Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway (Voting NO)
  3. Trinity's Head of School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Prof. James Wickham (my old Sociology Prof. voting DON'T Know).

Dr. Barrett's main points were that there is very little in the Treaty that is not already contained in previous Treaties and Council decisions, and that the Treaty, through the establishment of the ESM, provides Ireland with an insurance policy in case we needed further funding after the current Troika led "bail-out" expires at the end of 2013. Ireland needs to roll-over c. €18 Billion of debt in 2014 alone, and may not be able to achieve that funding on the sovereign debt markets or from the IMF in the absence of ECB/European Commission goodwill and support.

In a subsequent question I noted that many Irish voters might regard external restraints on Government borrowing as a good thing in itself given the experience of two Fianna Fail led administrations in the late 1970's and from the late 1990's onwards, which effectively bought their way to power on the promise of tax reductions and public expenditure increases at a time when the economy was already growing rapidly. The resulting booms led to rather painful busts which Irish voters will not wish to see repeated.

So why all the fuss, and why is there a real possibility the Treaty will be rejected?

front-paged by afew


James Wickham argued that the Treaty debate needed to be understood in the context of a much broader debate about the future of Europe and that there was huge popular unease that the Treaty was part of a process whereby the European ideals which people had bought into were being systematically undermined. He characterised those ideals as consisting of:

  1. Relatively egalitarian income distributions and attitudes which approved of more equality rather than less
  2. The concept of social citizenship which entitled people to high standards of public education, health care, and income support, and which was not dependent on the goodwill of philanthropists
  3. The concept of economic citizenship  which entitled people to a host of rights (and obligations) in the workplace, and
  4. A concept of the state as the backbone of society which guarantees a public space and not as an intrinsically evil imposition as it is characterised by Reaganite neo-conservatives in the USA.

He noted that, historically, the EU had had a role in both demolishing such state guaranteed rights by breaking down national barriers and in creating new rights and obligations to protect people from the effects of the single market.  However, increasingly, the EU was seen as exposing people to the full rigours of globalisation without providing corresponding social protections as the member nation states had previously done. Effectively, the Treaty was part of a process by which the EU was undermining its own existence by devouring the social compact on which it was based. The European welfare state is not a luxury item we can no longer afford, but the whole basis of our social solidarity built up at a time of great adversity and austerity.

Terrence McDonough noted the Keynesian "paradox of thrift" whereby what is good for the Swabian housewife isn't necessarily what is good for the economy as a whole. Thus a number of economies all banding together to introduce austerity policies at the same time may simply exacerbate the crisis for all. Austerity policies may appease "the markets" in the short term, but may often simply undermine the confidence of markets in the growth potential and thus credit worthiness of the self-same economies.

Ireland, he argued, had enormous unrealised bargaining power because a default by Ireland would be unthinkable and enormously damaging for the Eurozone as a whole. There simply was no solution to the Eurozone crisis which did not include:

  1. Eurobonds
  2. ECB funding of sovereign deficits (that came within agreed criteria)
  3. A mechanism for restructuring unsustainable sovereign debts
  4. Taxes to finance EU budgets which effectively transferred resources from well off to less well off regions
  5. Policies to address trade imbalances

In the absence of such policies the Euro is doomed in any case and any belief that Ireland can be saved by future ESM bail-outs is likely to be delusionary when those funds are also required for Italy, Portugal and Spain.

I noted in a follow up question that there was an emerging debate within Europe with regard to the Fiscal Stability Treaty as evidenced by the election of François Hollande, the outcome of the Greek and Nordrhein-Westfalen elections, and the failure of Merkel to obtain a parliamentary majority for her own signature proposal. The question of another "bail-out" for Ireland doesn't arise until the end of the current Troika programme in 2014 and it simply doesn't make sense for Ireland to vote yes to a proposal without knowing what addition "growth" proposals may be added to it in subsequent negotiations. We could vote NO now and reconsider the proposal if and when a fuller growth and stability pact had been agreed.

This question evoked divergent responses from the panel: Gavin Barrett opined that our initial NO votes on Nice and Lisbon had been extremely damaging in terms of our standing in Europe and another NO vote could have serious consequences for confidence and foreign direct investment in Ireland in the meantime. Terrence McDonough noted that the current Government's strategy of being nice to Europe had resulted in no tangible gains whatsoever, and that doors had been slammed in Finance Minister Michael Noonan's face every time he tried to raise the Anglo Irish promissory note issue. James Wickham noted that the European Project is often likened to riding a bicycle and that our prior practice of saying NO on occasion may no longer be tenable. The wheels are too close to coming off the project as a whole and we shouldn't expect a positive outcome if we add more fuel to the flames.

Overall there was a sense that the European project is in crisis as never before and that Ireland has very little influence on the outcome, one way or the other. Encouragingly, there are the beginnings of a European debate cast in European terms and a rejection of crude national stereotypes of nasty Germans or lazy Greeks. There is great anger, but it is directed at bankers rather than at the Germans or the Greeks. There is also great fear at the unknown consequences of a Treaty rejection especially if that furthers the break-up of the Euro and the EU. The Irish electorate may have to balance that anger and that fear when coming to a decision.

Display:
This is my 250th. Diary on the European tribune over the past four and a half years and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have read, recommended and commented on them. It has been a most enjoyable learning experience for me personally and I hope for some of you as well. I suppose this diary epitomises what I have been trying to achieve - a greater understanding of the world around me, but also a means sharing the concerns raised leading, ideally, to some shared friendships, proposals and actions. My thanks to all at the European Tribune for making this possible.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 16th, 2012 at 08:36:48 PM EST
I noted that many Irish voters might regard external restraints on Government borrowing as a good thing in itself given the experience of two Fianna Fail led administrations in the late 1970's and from the late 1990's onwards, which effectively bought their way to power on the promise of tax reductions and public expenditure increases at a time when the economy was already growing rapidly. The resulting booms led to rather painful busts which Irish voters will not wish to see repeated....So why all the fuss, and why is there a real possibility the Treaty will be rejected?

That seems a deliberately confounding question that rests on conflation of fundamentally different issues. To prevent self serving pro-cyclical spending by elites that results in boom and bust cycles by sending the economy into depression seems mad. Even the Troika is not attempting that. They are merely attempting to squeeze blood out of stones and don't care if people are crushed between the stones or lives are stunted for want of work at the beginning of careers.

They may get blood but won't get the money by killing the economy. From Richard Koo's analysis of the Japanese balance sheet recession it would also appear that they will not even get as much money as they could have gotten due to potential production lost forever.

It would seem more sensible for the Irish electorate to exact revenge on Fianna Fail and (next) Fianna Gael at the polls, or even in person, rather than by killing the economy - which is the likely prospect of the current policy demands of the Troika.

How was that question received and answered?  

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed May 16th, 2012 at 09:07:44 PM EST
For a political elite to engage in "election buying" by engaging in a tax reduction and spending increasing splurge at a time of already high growth is almost as undesirable as engaging in austerity economics at a time of recession. The negative effects may be delayed, but they are very real in recent Irish historical experience, and is, perhaps, one of the main reasons why Ireland may yet support the Treaty.

I made the point in the context of a longer question (also referred to towards the end of the diary) and so it wasn't specifically addressed by the panel - who I think took it as read. It has always surprised me (a little) that the yes side isn't using that argument to bolster their case.

Of course the point is often made that the Fiscal Stability Treaty wouldn't have prevented the Irish collapse had it been in force in 2007.  Irish national debt was then at 25% GDP and the budget was in surplus. It was private debt, at c. 400% GDP that was the problem, largely because of inappropriately low ECB interest rates (set to meet German economic needs) and a lack of bank regulation at both Irish and European levels.

This is my larger problem with the Treaty - it doesn't really address problems associated with lack of regulation of private markets and focuses purely on the public responses to economic challenges. The focus on underlying structural deficits taking business cycles and and once off extraordinary events into account is an improvement on the prior  Growth and Stability pact which focused only on headline deficit rates, but the Treaty remains blind to what is happening in private markets and the real economy outside the state sector.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 16th, 2012 at 09:58:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For a political elite to engage in "election buying" by engaging in a tax reduction and spending increasing splurge at a time of already high growth is almost as undesirable as engaging in austerity economics at a time of recession.

This is almost never true. Overspending, and the consequent inflation, is nearly always less a problem than underspending and accompanying deflation. Unless you're a bondholder, but fuck them.

The negative effects may be delayed, but they are very real in recent Irish historical experience,

This is a consequence of defending a rigid currency peg, not a consequence of inflationary policy per se.

The correct response to a period of excess inflation, once it is over, is to let bygones be bygones and allow the currency to drop. It is not to attempt to "correct" the inflationary episode by a deflationary one. As I often put it, that is akin to "curing" a man who has been shot in the front by shooting him in the back, on the theory that on average no bullet will have passed through him.

It was private debt, at c. 400% GDP that was the problem, largely because of inappropriately low ECB interest rates (set to meet German economic needs) and a lack of bank regulation at both Irish and European levels.

Low interest rates do not cause untenable levels of private debt. The private sector, if left to its own devices, builds up untenable levels of debt when interest rates are high, it builds up untenable levels of debt when interest rates are low, it builds up untenable levels of debt when interest rates are stable and it builds up untenable levels of debt when interest rates are fluctuating.

Because the private sector, if left to its own devices, will build up untenable levels of debt. Full stop.

The only way for interest rate policy to prevent this is to engineer a macroeconomic crisis. Which, in another medical analogy, is akin to amputating the limb to treat a sprained muscle. Half the time amputating the wrong limb.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 01:34:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I will leave it to you and any others who wish to to debunk the CW and popular perception of what went wrong with the Irish economy in the early 1980's, but the virtually unchallenged political perception in Ireland is that it was caused in large part (and ignoring outside factors like Oil prices) by the Fianna Fail Party buying the 1977 election by promising all sorts of electoral goodies such as the elimination of household rates (i.e. property taxes). This proved so popular that FF won by a landslide despite the fact that the outgoing Government had managed the economy pretty well and growth was at c. 5% in any case.

More generally there has been a lot of criticism of the "clientalist" nature of Irish politics whereby parliamentarians competing against each other in localised multi-seat constituencies will attempt to outbid each other in saying how much funds they will secure for worthy investment projects for local schools,l. roads, roads etc. The CW is that whilst these expenditures may be desirable or at least defensible in particular cases, the aggregate effect has been an inexorable rise in public spending often on crazy projects and especially in marginal electoral areas or those represented by a powerful Minister.

Nigel Farage and others linked to the UKIP has been doing the rounds in Ireland again railing at unelected EU officials undermining popular democracy. He may get a more sympathetic hearing this time - given the antics of the ECB and Commission - but what he failed to understand in the past was that many Irish people were more than happy for "unelected Brussels Bureaucrats" to put the brakes on often incompetent or very self interested Irish politicians and administrators who they deemed obsessed with public spending as a means of personal and political self-aggrandizement.

My point is that (up until now, at least) the political class in Brussels was often more popular than the local political class in terms of perceived competence and disinterested judgement and this may be a reason why many people will vote yes even as it becomes increasingly obvious to many more people that the political class in the EU has taken leave of its senses and is operating in the political/financial interests of elites elsewhere than in Ireland.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 04:55:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I will leave it to you and any others who wish to to debunk the CW and popular perception of what went wrong with the Irish economy in the early 1980's, but the virtually unchallenged political perception in Ireland is that it was caused in large part (and ignoring outside factors like Oil prices) by the Fianna Fail Party buying the 1977 election by promising all sorts of electoral goodies such as the elimination of household rates (i.e. property taxes). This proved so popular that FF won by a landslide despite the fact that the outgoing Government had managed the economy pretty well and growth was at c. 5% in any case.

Well, taxes do have a function and deficits do matter. Which means that lowering the one and raising the other for frivolous reasons, like buying the loyalty of your party's clients, is a bad idea. My argument is simply that it is obviously false to claim that it is as bad an idea as failing to check a serious industrial depression.

More generally, the public budget is an instrument of economic planning and control. Budgeting for the public like a Roman patrician buying electoral favors is just as wrong-headed as (but arguably less harmful than) budgeting for the public like a Swabian housewife.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 05:05:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd say the Roman patrician and the Swabian housewife are two sides of the same process.

First, inflate the economy by a bubble that your important clients stand to gain the most from - and throw in crums for the plebes. Then crashland and demand that the plebes pay for the excesses. Both phases transfer power to your clients.

Economically, the crash is the problem, but politically the bubble sets up for the crash.

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 May 17th, 2012 at 09:18:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
My point is that (up until now, at least) the political class in Brussels was often more popular than the local political class in terms of perceived competence and disinterested judgement and this may be a reason why many people will vote yes even as it becomes increasingly obvious to many more people that the political class in the EU has taken leave of its senses and is operating in the political/financial interests of elites elsewhere than in Ireland.

Twenty years ago, when I was often working with my Italian colleagues at my company's Milan site, my colleagues were strongly in favor of the upcoming Maastricht treaty and generally speaking, for more powers for Brussels' EU institutions. Their reasoning at the time was that the EU was badly needed to reign in the worst excesses of the Italian political class that was perceived as corrupted beyond any repair. Then again, Italy put Berlusconi at its head during much of the subsequent decade.

This was twenty years ago. I wonder how the same EU institutions are perceived today in Italy and to which extent people are realizing that "the EU has taken leave of its senses and is operating in the political/financial interests of elites elsewhere". It should become painfully obvious about now...

by Bernard on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 01:10:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tax reductions aimed at directing more income into the top tiers of the income ladder to adds fuel to the fire to an asset inflation bubble certainly are destructive, though of course the damage done is not realized until the bubble bursts.

When those tax cuts at the same time reduce the progressivity of the tax structure, increasing the instability of the economy and so adding collateral economic damage to the damage already ensured by further feeding the bubble, that certainly can be "almost as much damage" as the damage done by the austerian fantasy that you can cut spending to boost economic growth.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 12:08:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One point I find interesting about this diary is the dog that does not bark:

Even from the Yes side, there is no argument presented that this treaty is anything but idiotic policy. All the Yes arguments seem based on downplaying the degree of policy stupidity and the political cost of being the first country to point out that Angela Merkel is insane.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 01:22:02 AM EST
I think even the Yes side will admit its a tough sell  - after the tough sells of Nice and Lisbon which appeared to have few tangible benefits for Ireland and which were accompanied by unfulfilled promises to add protocols safeguarding Ireland's national interests to the Croatia accession Treaty.

Basically the NO side are playing the Anger card (at the bankers, tax increases, and public service cutbacks)  and the yes side are playing the Fear card - how will we fund public services without access to the ESM, and what happens to Ireland if the whole Euro project falls apart.

What has been remarkable about recent referenda on Europe has been how complex some of the Treaties are for ordinary people to understand, and how unrelated they are to the real problems people face in the real world.

So Much so, that Prof. Wickham, in prefacing his remarks, said he wasn't going to talk about the content of the Treaty at all, because it was largely irrelevant to what was really happening in the EU and how people felt about it - bailing out bankers, Germany and France taking over the running of the EU, Draghi declaring the social market dead, and the complete absence of any positive response from any EU institution to the crises people felt in their daily lives.

I remarked that the ECB seemed to be obsessed at telling everybody else what to do - in fiscal and social matters - and not having anything positive to say about things it should be concerned with  - Monetary policy, bank regulation, and lender of last resort to sovereigns in trouble. Slowly but surely the public perception of the EU is changing frm enthusiastic support for the ideals of the European Project to embittered despair at the EU's failure to make a positive contribution to a largely collective problem.

Whatever about the results of the current referendum - this cannot be good news - with Sinn Fein, who have opposed the Referendum on EU membership and every EU related referendum since the only beneficiaries in political terms.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 08:28:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like you're having a wonderfully constructive national dialogue about the important institutional implications of membership of a currency union.

- Jake

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

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 09:11:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The one thing I will say about the Irish political system of having a written constitution and the requirement that it can only be changed by public referendum is that it forces a public debate of what are often arcane legal/institutional issues which can be construed in many different ways by "experts" and which results in a level of public awareness, education, and engagement which a purely parliamentary (and elite professional) process never engenders.

The proverbial taxi driver can probably give you a view on the significance of Hollande's election and the need to write down Anglo Irish promissory notes... Sometimes the process by which a decision is arrived at is almost more important than the decision itself.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 09:25:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wow, 250!

congrats on a great series of intelligent, well-researched, well-written, extremely substantial diaries that have considerably enriched my understanding of Irish history and politics, especially as they pertain to the EU.

it has been an unalloyed pleasure to see the comments and discussion engendered, and your engagement with the site in general.

many thanks Frank, here's to 250 more!

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 07:21:50 AM EST
Fiscal Treaty poll: Pressure on Yes vote as 35pc 'don't know'
The poll, conducted earlier this week, shows 37pc saying they will vote Yes, with 24pc in the No camp. But 35pc of voters say they still don't know how they will vote, while just 4pc say they won't vote.

When the don't knows are excluded, it is 60pc Yes compared with 40pc No.

The referendum is there for the taking by the Yes side, but the Government will know there is no room for complacency.

The poll results also reveal that the Yes vote is being driven by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail voters.

But Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has a battle on his hands to convince a sizeable block of Labour supporters to back the treaty.

Labour voters lag behind Fine Gael and Fianna Fail voters in their backing of the treaty.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has seen off the rebellion of dissident TD Eamon O Cuiv calling for a No vote.

Support for the Yes side is also shown to be highest among older voters and those in the affluent and middles classes.

But after three weeks of debate on the EU fiscal treaty referendum, voters are still limited in their knowledge of what they are deciding on.

Against the backdrop of the ongoing instability in Greece and the threat to kick that country out of the euro, the poll also shows Irish voters want to stay in the eurozone.

Euro

A substantial majority, or three out of every four voters, want Ireland to remain in the single currency.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 08:31:57 AM EST
The 60:40 yes/no margin, with a very substantial don't know segment has been more or less a constant throughout the campaign.

The Yes side may take comfort that the deepening Greek crisis with rumours of mass bank runs will scare people into the yes camp.

The NO side can point to the growing realisation in Europe that the Treaty, as is, is totally inadequate to meet the need to re-generate growth and correct fiscal imbalances, and that Ireland would be throwing away its negotiating position if it votes yes now in advance of discussions to expand the scope or context of the Treaty.

An awful lot can change in the net two weeks as previous referenda were defeated even after opinion polls had shown substantial YES majorities in the lead up to the poll.

My guess is that the growing Greek crisis will drive people to the Yes side, as the Irish economy has stabilised (at a 0.7% growth projection level) and people are more afraid of things getting substantially worse rather than hopeful that a rejection would force the EU to take more effective remedial action.

However differential turnout (in a low turnout election) could still be a factor if the YES side become complacent, and, unusually for me,  I would be reluctant to predict the result at this stage.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 09:15:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, there seems to be no opportunity for a clear pro European Union position to make the case against the treaty on the grounds that both the existing SGP and the proposed 'enhancements' are actually undermining those elements of the EU and EMU which were the basis for joining the process. Why in the world should anyone support doing more damage to an already sinking ship whilst insisting on remaining aboard? Those Germans represented by the Merkel Government of course think that they are going to benefit and they have in the short term, but that short term is quickly coming to an end.

The only answer I can see is that the leadership of Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael are both blind to the problems and see their futures bound up with this sinking ship. But even in that case, surely they should be wanting to keep the ship afloat, even if they are supporting measures that will result in it sinking sooner. Opposing the treaty changes, in fact supports the ideals of the EU and a more functional organization of the EMU and the Euro.


As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 10:04:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'clear pro European supporter' that is.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 10:05:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, there seems to be no opportunity for a clear pro European Union position to make the case against the treaty on the grounds that both the existing SGP and the proposed 'enhancements' are actually undermining those elements of the EU and EMU which were the basis for joining the process.
And what do you call this, then?
James Wickham argued that the Treaty debate needed to be understood in the context of a much broader debate about the future of Europe and that there was huge popular unease that the Treaty was part of a process whereby the European ideals which people had bought into were being systematically undermined. He characterised those ideals as consisting of:

  • Relatively egalitarian income distributions and attitudes which approved of more equality rather than less
  • The concept of social citizenship which entitled people to high standards of public education, health care, and income support, and which was not dependent on the goodwill of philanthropists
  • The concept of economic citizenship  which entitled people to a host of rights (and obligations) in the workplace, and
  • A concept of the state as the backbone of society which guarantees a public space and not as an intrinsically evil imposition as it is characterised by Reaganite neo-conservatives in the USA.

He noted that, historically, the EU had had a role in both demolishing such state guaranteed rights by breaking down national barriers and in creating new rights and obligations to protect people from the effects of the single market.  However, increasingly, the EU was seen as exposing people to the full rigours of globalisation without providing corresponding social protections as the member nation states had previously done. Effectively, the Treaty was part of a process by which the EU was undermining its own existence by devouring the social compact on which it was based. The European welfare state is not a luxury item we can no longer afford, but the whole basis of our social solidarity built up at a time of great adversity and austerity.


guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 11:27:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Ireland is a small country. Perhaps I underestimate the impact of Trinity's Head of School of Social Sciences and Philosophy can have on the debate as a whole. It would be good to have an organization with national scope presenting his message. Perhaps he will go on Tonight with Vincent Brown or some other such program, but that still does not seem to me to be able to spread the message to the average person. Coverage or at least references to his statements in the MSM would be better.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 01:58:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was surprised there were only perhaps 30 people in the large lecture hall, and I have seen no media coverage of the Seminar. It seemed to be very badly organised as I only got an email about it the day before the event. Media coverage on the day was dominated by a news conference by UKIP Party leader Nigel Farage and a Danish ultra-right Eurosceptic (both on the No side). Gavin Barrett has had op ed pieces in the Irish Times, as has Terrence McDonough. James Wickham has made occasional radio appearances though not, to my knowledge, on the Referendum issue, so I would not over-estimate the influence of this trio. They would not, exactly, be household names and perhaps only Barrett has the media skills to be a regular TV/Radio performer..

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 02:14:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Something I've been wondering. If the referendum passes, does the Dail have to ratify the treaty? Doesn't the wording just give them permission to do so?

"The State may ratify the Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union done at Brussels on the 2nd day of March 2012. No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State that are necessitated by the obligations of the State under that Treaty or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by bodies competent under that Treaty from having the force of law in the State."
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 09:48:50 AM EST
Technically, I think you are right, but what basis would the Government have for not doing so, and what chance is there that the large FG/Lab. majority wouldn't do so?

If we want to withhold support for the Treaty pending negotiation of a better one, I think our only realistic option is to vote NO. The growing debate around Europe concerning the need for a broader range of measures provides us with a rationale for doing so without damaging our reputation as "Good Europeans".

In fact, if the Government had any balls, it would postpone the referendum pending the negotiation of a more adequate Treaty quoting changed circumstances as the reason. It is demeaning to the Irish people that we should be asked to put every half baked proposal into our constitution.

But asking for a little self-respect from our Government is probably asking for too much. No wonder no one else takes us seriously.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 10:00:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Shane Ross proposed a bill today that would, in his opinion, allow for postponement.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 10:06:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stephen Donnelly, Wicklow TD has come out in support of postponement as well. I am meeting him tonight to will report back later.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 10:16:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And now I'm writing approvingly of Shane Ross.

<despair>

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 10:21:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pn the technical process, to amend the Constitution a Bill is initiated in Dáil Éireann and, once passed by both houses, the referendum is held. If it is approved, the President "duly" signs it into law. It doesn't go back to the Oireachtas as they have already passed it.

The only reason the President could refuse to sign it would be if he was not satisfied that the referendum operated in accordance with the law. If only there were a political party on the No side with enough links to organised criminals to run a ballot-stuffing operation. Even if they were caught, there'd be grounds for a re-run.

by ectoraige on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 05:16:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but all the referendum does is authorise the Oireachtas to ratify the treaty, which is a seperate step.

I must be right, because I've just realised I heard that Gilmore(?) sad that the treaty would be ratified as soon as the referendum was passed. Moron.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 05:54:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the ratification of a Treaty normally involves depositing a signed copy of the Treaty with the UN or EU or with whoever the Treaty is an agreement with. It is after all, a contract with other signatories to abide by its terms. Changing our constitution is simply an enabling step in that context.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun May 20th, 2012 at 08:01:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bruton retracts suggestion of second vote on treaty - The Irish Times - Thu, May 17, 2012
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton briefly raised the controversial prospect of a re-run of the referendum in the event of a No vote when he took part in a radio debate.

He then retracted his comments.

During the debate Today FM host Matt Cooper asked Mr Bruton if the Government had a "plan B" and inquired what he would say to Ireland's European counterparts in the event of a No vote.

"I suppose we will have to say that we will need access to this fund and I think Ireland will be looking to say can we vote again because we will need access to this fund," Mr Bruton said.

Asked if he was suggesting a re-run in the event of the referendum being rejected, Mr Burton said: "I'm saying that we will have a crisis on our hands and we will face a really, really difficult situation in funding ourselves. That's the reality."

Later in the debate Mr Bruton said there would be "no question" of a second vote. Mr Cooper put it to Mr Bruton that he had said the opposite earlier.

"I'm retracting what I said. There's nothing wrong with being honest. Government has made it clear that there will be no second vote and I just want to clarify that. This is a debate. We can all make mistakes," he said.

Following Mr Bruton's remarks the Fine Gael director of elections Simon Coveney issued a statement saying that under no circumstances would there be a second vote.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu May 17th, 2012 at 01:58:49 PM EST
YES 50% (-3)
NO 31% (0)
Don't Know 19% (+3%)

60:40 YES/NO trend has remained remarkably constant throughout the campaign

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri May 18th, 2012 at 08:12:00 AM EST
James Wickham has forwarded me a link of the slides to a much more detailed version of his presentation if you are interested...


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 19th, 2012 at 07:26:42 AM EST
Everyone now seemingly agrees that the Stability Treaty needs to be complemented by a growth plan if the austerity policies it prescribes are not to lead to unsustainable debts and an ever deepening spiral of depression in the peripheral regions of the Eurozone.

For some unaccountable reason the Irish Government has determined that we should vote on the Treaty in advance of any growth pact being agreed, and in advance of most other Eurozone countries including Germany, where Chancellor Merkel is having difficulty getting the Treaty ratified by parliament in its current form.

So the critical question facing Irish voters is whether a YES or a NO vote will expedite the process of ensuring an adequate growth plan is agreed, and particularly one which takes vital Irish national interests into account.

A YES vote now will enhance our reputation as good Europeans, sooth the nerves of companies considering investing here, and perhaps make a small contribution towards lessening the sense of crisis within Europe as a whole. However pending a resolution of the Greek crisis one way or the other, it is unlikely that any Irish referendum result will have much impact on EU decision making processes in the short term.

A NO vote now will increase the pressure on our European partners to agree a substantial growth pact, and one which takes Irish interests and concerns regarding corporate tax rates and Anglo-Irish promissory notes into account.

In line with recent tradition, we can then vote on a revised Treaty or one augmented by substantial guarantees and concessions in the full knowledge of what the Treaty entails for Irish and European growth and recovery prospects.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 19th, 2012 at 08:40:29 AM EST
The faith displayed by the Irish has long been a stereotype.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 19th, 2012 at 09:21:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except that the last Government squandered a lot of goodwill in Europe and became quite arrogant in its approach. Diplomats report a big loss of Goodwill following the Nice and Lisbon no votes and so the current government has been trying to play nice - with no tangible rewards to date - despite Irish taxpayers bailing out German banks.

The big political problem for us is that there is no understanding in Germany that the bailout funds were intended and used not to bail out Ireland, but to bail-out German banks who had invested in bankrupt Irish banks. I think a NO vote would force a greater appreciation of the interdependencies of our economies and banking systems, and perhaps also start an education process that the net effect of all the bailouts has been to bail out the elites and the expense of the poor.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 19th, 2012 at 09:46:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no goodwill in Europe.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 19th, 2012 at 09:57:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only Godwin is left.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Sat May 19th, 2012 at 10:11:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then there can be no solidarity, national, communal, regional or social. Politics becomes administration /dictatorship and we may all forget the "European project".

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 19th, 2012 at 11:04:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we are being told that the European project is "no solidarity, national, communal, regional or social".
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 19th, 2012 at 12:06:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When the governments of the core have approaches that range from moderate opposition to full and enthusiastic embrace of neo-liberal agenda this is what you get. The Liberal Project was all about making the world safe for business. The neo-liberal project is about making the world safe for wealth extraction by the rich via finance.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 19th, 2012 at 12:15:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The first national opposition to the neo-liberal project is still emerging in Greece.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 19th, 2012 at 12:16:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not any more. They paid lip service to it in the Lisbon Treaty, but one wonders whether future treaties will include the word "solidarity".  The fiscal compact treaty [PDF] already doesn't.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 19th, 2012 at 03:53:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dr. Barrett's main points were that there is very little in the Treaty that is not already contained in previous Treaties and Council decisions, and that the Treaty, through the establishment of the ESM, provides Ireland with an insurance policy in case we needed further funding after the current Troika led "bail-out" expires at the end of 2013.

And, like with most poorly regulated insurance schemes, the purchasers will find that the terms have been changed just before they needed the policy to pay out and in such a way that they either no longer qualify or that their payout is much less.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 19th, 2012 at 12:21:14 PM EST
Yes campaign for fiscal treaty holding its lead, poll shows - The Irish Times - Sat, May 26, 2012
Asked how they were likely to vote on the treaty, 39 per cent of voters said Yes, 30 per cent said No, 22 per cent said they did not know, and 9 per cent said they would not be voting.

When the 31 per cent of undecided and non-voters are excluded, support for the Yes side stands at 57 per cent with No support at 43 per cent.

Support for the Yes side has increased by nine points since the last Irish Times poll five weeks ago, while support for the No side has gone up by seven points.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat May 26th, 2012 at 05:25:54 AM EST
So the opinion polls were right and the referendum was passed by 60:40 margin on a 50% turnout. It was notable that the NO votes came predominantly from working class and Boarder constituencies where Sinn Fein is strong.

In analysing the result many commentators have referred to the outcome as being a triumph of fear over anger - echoing the title of this piece. Others have referred to the ominous news from Greece and Spain as having influenced Irish voters to support proposals they argued enabled Ireland to remain on the inside track of the European project with access to ESM funds.

There is the forlorn hope that if Spain's banks are re-capitalised directly from ESM funds, then Ireland's banks will be too - retrospectively - in recognition of the mistake that was made in allowing private banking debt to be assumed into Sovereign debt.

The Government has sought to characterise the result as an endorsement for itself and its approach to Europe - trying to play nice guys and using persuasion to achieve a more growth orientated startegy for Ireland and Europe as a whole.

Good luck with that.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 1st, 2012 at 04:41:39 PM EST


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