Monday, 12 January 2009

Ireland and Lisbon

It has been reported that there is a poll showing a majority in favour of Lisbon:

"The Sunday Independent / Quantum Research survey carried out last Friday showed that 55 per cent of the 500 people asked would support the treaty while 37 per cent said they would oppose it and 15 per cent said they were undecided."

However, as the article also points out, confidence in the government and the Taoiseach has collasped (and with good reason in my opinion).

While Fianna Fáil have been the senior partner in the government for more than a decade now, leading to the natural political reaction of blaming them for the state of the economy (and it is in a state, with reports that the government will have to borrow €45 million a day to sustain its budget this year), I think the collapse in support for the government has little to do with Lisbon (not that this was implied in the article). Most of the backlash began in September when budgetary proposals threatened to slash public spending in very uncomfortable ways (the issue of means-teasting free medical care for over 70s (Ireland isn't famous for it's "welfare state" in the first place) led to particularly bitter protests). The poor leadership of the government since hasn't improved matters, and probably indicates a collapse of confidence in itself, never mind on the side of the voters.

So the big question is can the referendum be won dispite this. The Irish public are very... sensitive, or rebellious if you want to put a more glamourous spin on it (and I make this generalization as an Irishman), so there are a lot of things for us to take "offence" at. (I will try to post later about the Irish Referendum in detail). The organisation and effectiveness of the No side (which is very good) in making the appeal to this side of the public will probably be the deciding factor. Though never underestimate the incompetence of the Yes side...

In other news, Declan Ganley has failed to find a local to wear the Libertas badge in the Czech Republic, at least so far. The Free Citizen's Party has been set up by Petr Mach to campaign on an anti-Lisbon platform. Ganley has declared that he is pro-EU, while Mach is eurosceptic, so that's ok then.

Of course, I know nothing about how their talks were carried out, but that they were talking about Mach running on a Libertas platform come election time gives me the impression that the "vetting" stage should have already taken place. So if it's important that Libertas is both "pro-europe" as well as anti-Lisbon, then it has clearly only become important recently.

Mind you, vetting isn't really needed when all they have to do is get elected, and then... well, nothing. Libertas sets itself up explicitly as a protest vote (and supposedly a very specific one at that), nothing more.

Besides all the arguments based on democracy,* why should taxpayers pay people not to do their jobs for 5 years?

*Including, but not limited to: Shouldn't the people have a voice during the 5 year term of the EP? Does it not damage the democratic legitimacy and effectiveness of the EP if its members are sent there without any policy platform? For a party which claims to want the EU to be reformed to have more democracy, is it not counter-productive to say the least to stand on a platform which will dent the effectiveness of the only directly elected institution in the EU?

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