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Eurosceptic Bloggers

Monday, May 23, 2005

Constitution Points to Ponder

Susan George, vice-president of the French Attac organisation, has a critique of the Constitution that is both simple and comprehensive. She makes a number of major points.
1) Complexity A Constitution should be comprehensible for the people it will govern. This text completely fails the test.
It is the legislative equivalent of small print. Meant to be important, but designed not to be read.
2) The people are absent A Constitution must be based on popular sovereignty, that is, come from the people. We have known this since the 18th century. Here this principle is forgotten.
This principle is absent from the whole EU, which is where the problem starts.
3) Signing for an "unlimited duration" One must be able to change a Constitution. Changes cannot, for all practical purposes, be made to the TCE.
It would have made it a little heavy, but this document might as well have been carved in stone.
4) A neo-liberal dream The TCE goes into huge detail on economic and monetary policy. The only other Constitution I know of that devotes so much detail to economics was the Stalinist one of the Soviet Union of 1936.
As a Neo-Liberal myself, I have to say that it is a Neo Liberal’s nightmare, but the level of detail about economic issues is itself a major problem. General principles belong in a constitution, not details.
5) Separation of powers Normal Constitutional principals such as separation of powers and "checks and balances" are almost entirely absent and the executive branch is far too dominant.
This is the most essential part of any constitution and it is missing from this one.
6) Read it People who have actually read the text almost always come out of this difficult exercise determined to vote against it
Anyone who actually looks at the text is likely to at least regard it with suspicion if not outright hostility. Our best argument is the text itself. All in all it’s a great dissection from someone with whom I would normally have little in common.

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