Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
What the Government DOES need to do next time around is spell out what the rest of the EU WILL do if Lisbon is rejected a second time. Of course this will be presented by the NO campaign as bullying, but nobody is forcing Ireland to tag along.

You are on a loser here, if not this time then later on down the road. The problem with the Crotty decision, or more precisely with the manner in which Irish governments have decided to interpret it, is that it is a time bomb. With each successive referendum you add some latent hostility from the "you mean we have to vote AGAIN? Will it ever stop?" attitude. Then you have the accusation that no answer except the "right" answer will be accepted and "they" will keep coming back until you give "right' answer. What this results in is an accumulation of bile. Given the previous Nice referenda, my initial thought was that the No campaign was starting out with the advantage. That is what makes the complacency of the Yes campaign so frustrating - they should have seen this coming.

You are absolutely correct to say an referendum would not be required to implement an "Ireland-opts-out" scenario. But holding a second Lisbon-approval referendum backed by the perceived threat of what will happen if you vote No again is just way too easy to present as "bullying". Even if the electorate reverses the vote, you will have just accumulated more bile and next time you will have an even steeper hill to climb. Any consequences that flow from a second No should just as naturally flow from the initial No - otherwise the "threat" is a new addition. The fact that the electorate was not aware or may have been deceived on this point is neither here-nor-there. They voted; the consequences should follow even if those consequences were not recognized.

Now I absolutely do not want the Irish government to follow a course that begins to exclude Ireland. I think it would be bad for the EU and a disaster for Ireland. That is why I am only half in jest when I propose reversing the question. The logic is that the Irish government negotiates the terms of its exclusion, then it says "Ok people, this is what you have voted for, are you SURE you want to do this?". To my mind it is a far easier referendum to market. You are not asking the same question so much as looking for confirmation. The rational is that even though the confirmation is not required, the consequences that flow from the initial vote are so potentially damaging to the national interest that the government feels obliged to seek that confirmation before proceeding. The fact that the No campaign would not simply be able to dust off their generic "Don't be bullied - Vote No"/"If you don't know - Vote No" posters would just be an added bonus. The down-side is that the electorate may say "Yes, we are sure" and then the course is set.

And you are welcome regarding my other response. Anyone willing to fight the good fight deserves whatever little input I can give.

by det on Thu Aug 28th, 2008 at 07:53:34 AM EST
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