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Eurosceptic Bloggers

Monday, May 30, 2005

Postmortem of a Political Earthquake

The news media are full of the recriminations of the No Vote in France. Who won? Who Lost? What is the next step? Where does the future of the EU lie? First we must consider what has happened here. This is no mere Bump in the road, to be ironed out after some negotiation. This is an event that will shape everything that comes afterwards, from further integrations to enlargement, to the balance of power in the EU. In terms of precedents, this is a big one. The first time a major country has rejected a treaty. This on the first time that so many countries had been offered referendums. It’s the first major French Rebellion in the history of the EU. Never before have so many eyes been so firmly on such an acrimonious debate on the future of Europe. With the major political parties lining up on the Yes side, they were still defeated. This shows that the political elite still has its collective head in the clouds. It also shows that it no longer matters anymore. The people when given a chance have a loud enough voice of their own. The Dutch referendum is likely to reinforce this fact later this week. Pro Treaty Campaigners such as Francois Hollande ("The rejection of this treaty is above all the rejection of the government,"), are trying to paint this as the rejection of the government rather than the EU. Presenters on BBC last night were asking the question, Is this result really about the Treaty or the Government. No campaigners were predictably saying that it was about the treaty, Yes campaigners (especially Socialists) that it was about the government. There was an underlying assumption that the No voters were somehow ignorant. Lets get something straight here. Most of the No’s voted against what they see the EU to have become, most of the Yes’s for a vaguely Pro-EU ideal. Neither side was more sophisticated than the other, although one should not forget that books about this treaty have been selling like Hot Croissants so the electorate is surely not all ignorant. The idea that the general public is too ignorant to be allowed a vote on complex treaties, is I think, made rather stupid by the fact that those who vote on these things for us, generally don’t read them either. Kenneth Clarke famously admitted that he had not read the Maastricht treaty. The now obviously fatal decision to hold the Dutch Referendum so close to the French one, will of course be the final death knoll for this treaty. It is also the reason that EU officials and Pro Constitution governments have to make fools of themselves over the next 3 days, so as not to place their Dutch Colleagues in an impossible situation. Once that is out of the way, the treaty will be well and truly dead.

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