FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Irish Euro Vote Comes Down to the Wire

Dublin

The more the Irish people know about the Lisbon Treaty, the less they like it. That’s the message of the opinion polls as we draw close to Ireland’s June 12th referendum, which is decisive for the future of European Union institutions.

It’s going to be close. The media panic about the possibility of a No vote on Thursday hasn’t dwelled on such details as polling-margin-of-error and the huge body of undecided voters. But there’s no doubt that the momentum toward the No side has been real, and Ireland could well force the EU governments back to the old drawing board–for a second time, after the rejections of the similar EU Constitution by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

The main problem faced by a virtually complete assortment of the Irish and EU powers-that-be is that there is no obvious positive reason to vote Yes. “To Make EU Institutions Function More Efficiently” is not a slogan to stir the blood, especially when folks suspect those institutions are up to no good to begin with.

What’s more, the ‘reforms’ envisioned by Lisbon–e.g. more majority voting instead of unanimity, fewer commissioners–were allegedly required after the expansion of the European Union to 25 countries in 2004 (it’s now 27). But no one has noticed Brussels and Strasbourg seizing up with legislative gridlock under the current arrangements–and again, most people think they wouldn’t much mind if they did.

The underlying issues, and the reason that Ireland alone is holding a referendum on this treaty, have been dealt with previously in CounterPunch. What is notable as the voting approaches– it has actually started already on a few offshore islands–is that the Yes side has moved its argument forward from “come on, we like Europe” to “we’ll make a terrible mess if we vote No and this is no time to be getting Europe annoyed”. Ireland’s always fragile self-esteem has already taken a blow over the last year or two as the Celtic Tiger limps off the scene; and new Taoiseach (prime minister) Brian Cowen seems to be shouting breathlessly every time he comes on TV, all about the trouble we’ll be in if No emerges victorious.

That shouting could yet work: if I were a betting man I’d stick a few euro on a narrow Yes victory. The main farmers’ lobby has joined the Yes side, after strong-arming the government into a commitment to veto any WTO agreement that isn’t favorable. Moreoever, the prime opinion-forming media outlets  are amplifying the elite’s panic. (A couple of British-owned papers backing the No side have kept the press wars interesting, if not honest or well balanced.) Ad hominem attacks on the No side have been stepped up.

But the No side, which ranges right across the political spectrum, has kept throwing up objections to the Treaty and stayed on the offensive. Some of the objections are dubious–abortion will not be brought into Ireland thanks to Lisbon, however much this prospect seems to have engaged and enraged some conservative voters. And the fuss about keeping ‘our’ commissioner at the EU table and ensuring Ireland can continue to have the EU’s lowest corporation tax is neither very progressive nor based on a sound reading of how most Irish people’s interests have been served historically.

Sinn Fein, which had a terrible election last year, has virtually led the No campaign and deftly plucked arguments from left and right alike. But it would be fair to say that it has kept its emphasis to the left, and the party has helped to boost the left’s No voices, raising objections relating to workers’ rights, the possible privatization of public services and the militarization of the EU. It has made for an interesting month of debate: it’s rare, for instance, to hear so many, and contending, trade-union voices in the media.

And the popular energy is on the No side. While establishment politicians use the referendum campaign, and the accompanying relaxation of the litter laws, to stick up photos of themselves on lampposts across the State, sometimes beside the tiniest of “Yes” pleas, a motley assortment of No campaigners has plastered the island with slogans.

That energy, and a decision by the electorate that the burden of proof should be on those who wish us to change existing political arrangements and power structures, could yet yield a No victory when votes are counted on Friday. Whoever wins, the arguments about who wields power in Europe and to what purpose have only just begun.

HARRY BROWNE lectures in Dublin Institute of Technology. His book, ‘Hammered by the Irish: How the Pitstop Ploughshares disabled a US war-plane – with Ireland’s blessing’, is forthcoming from Counterpunch Books. He can be reached at: harry.browne@gmail.com

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Harry Browne lectures in Dublin Institute of Technology and is the author of The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power). Email:harry.browne@gmail.com, Twitter @harrybrowne

December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail