Bloggers for Europe
11Sep/09Off

Why we’re voting again

Posted at 3:18 pm by Owen Rooney

One of the principal arguments I've come across from No campaigners is, in absence of any objection to the Treaty itself, that having a second referendum is undemocratic, and that the people who voted No last time should be respected. The difficulty with this argument is that respecting and listening to the No voters is exactly what has led us to have this second referendum.

After the last referendum, it was quite clear that a renegotiation of certain aspects of the treaty was on the cards. The two biggest No campaign groups, Sinn Fein and Libertas, had both campaigned on the basis of going back to the EU and renegotiating on their contentious issues.  Furthermore, no less than 76% of No voters believed that the No vote would be used to "renegotiate exceptions within the treaty", which gave the Government a clear mandate to seek this new deal before putting the treaty back to the people.

Which is exactly what the Government did. The biggest issues for No voters in the referendum were 'Loss of Commissioner' (which 71% of No voters said was somewhat/very important to their vote), 'Neutrality' (82%), 'Workers Rights' (82%), 'Abortion' (66%) and 'Corporation Tax' (72%), which were unsurprisingly the points which the main No groups campaigned on in the run-up to the referendum. These top issues are the very ones which the Government received guarantees on from the 26 other member states, guarantees which state in the most unequivocal terms that these matters will be decided at national, not EU, level.

While I can certainly accept that a No voter might not be happy with these guarantees, might feel that they don't address his or her specific concerns, it would be disingenuous to suggest that the Government doesn't have the right, after listening to the voters and attempting to address their worries, to put this new deal back to the people for a second vote, and allow the people a chance to say whether their concerns have been met or not.

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Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. There is something in what you say.

    I have no objection in principle to re-running referenda. The first Nice result was obviously a freak, even though I voted “no” on both occasions. The repeat of the divorce amendment was OK with me, too.

    Furthermore, it is fair enough to point to the efforts to ascertain the detailed motivations behind the “no” vote, and to the adjustments agreed by the governments of other states in response. I do not agree that they are meaningless (though they are routinely exaggerated).

    And yet …

    The “elephant in the room” has been identified by McGreevy: voters in the EU as a whole do not want Lisbon. The Irish voters, the only ones to be given the chance, confirmed this in the ballot-boxes. (The referenda on the EUC, though not irrelevant, are not directly comparable IMHO – I don’t mind if Tony Coughlan, SF, Coir, Uncle Tom Cobley and all believe otherwise).

    Nor is this news. The Laeken Declaration recognised it years ago. The EU elites – I am not being derogatory – would like to solve it, but just do not know how, so they have decided to “park” it, because it is inconvenient.

    Part of this mind-set is to seek other reasons to explain specific events. This is done in good faith (at least by some) and is classic “framing” behaviour. It helps that voters themselves are not very clear on their motivations, and it all takes place against a background of very low turnouts and a changing media environment.

    The media are out of touch, and the polls are mis-designed. The result is that the issues are mis-framed.

    Unlike Nice, Lisbon 1 was not a freak result. Unlike divorce, the question is virtually the same, and ten years have not elapsed.

  2. Guarantees arent worth a damn thing, there was no guarantees on my polling card and the |Council admitted they dont change anything, if they did the treaty would have to be re ratified. Lies Lies \Lies, but the fearmongering worked.
    Long live the Republic

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