On Friday Ireland Decides Europe’s Future
This Friday, the Irish people are again being asked to sign away their sovereignty and freedom to the European Union authorities in Brussels. When the matter was put before them in a referendum in 2008, the Irish voted “No.” Now they have been told to vote again on the same matter. Ireland is the only country of the 27 EU member states where the people are allowed a direct vote about their future. In the other 26 countries which together with Ireland make up the European Union, the governments – not the people – have already decided to transfer national sovereignty to Brussels.
The EU leaders want Ireland to vote “yes.” They are intent on forcing the Irish to vote again and again until they say “yes.” In the past weeks, politicians from all over Europe, including Ireland’s own government ministers, have been threatening the Irish people that a second “No”-vote will have serious economic repercussions, although it has not been specified what these repercussions will be.
The referendum this Friday is Ireland’s second referendum in two years on the European Union’s 2007 Treaty of Lisbon. In June 2008, the Irish voted “No” and rejected the treaty. The fact that the Irish are being forced to hold a second referendum on the matter, is indicative of the nature of the EU and the way in which it “consults” its people. The EU is in the habit of giving recalcitrant populations another go if initially they fail to see that what the EU’s leaders have decided for them is best for them.
Had the Irish voted “yes” last year, they would not have been given a chance to change their minds. However, as the EU does not take “No” for an answer, the EU authorities have pressured the Irish government to make them vote again. Polls suggest that this time Ireland might vote “yes.” The Irish government and most of Ireland’s political parties are intimidating the people, warning them that if they say “no” again, Ireland will miss its date with history and isolate itself in Europe. Yet, the Irish are a proud and freedom-loving people and might live up to their ancient tradition of standing up to foreign domination. Many Europeans, including many English, are hoping that Ireland will be true to itself and defy Brussels as it once defied London. In Britain, Gordon Brown’s government had Parliament ratify the Lisbon treaty, despite the opposition of the British people.
Much is at stake in Ireland on Friday, because the Lisbon treaty is not an ordinary treaty. [...]
Read the whole thing for the details about what is at stake.
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Results from a referendum in Ireland indicate that voters there have removed the single greatest barrier to region-wide adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, which would further integrate the European Union -- the world's largest political and economic alliance encompassing almost 500 million people in 27 countries.
The treaty would also create a new full-time E.U. president and secretary of state, more closely linking the region's foreign policies and affording the alliance new clout on the world stage.
Irish voters rejected the treaty in a vote last year. But reassured that the European Union would not demand changes to their abortion laws or military neutrality, Irish switched gears in a second referendum Friday. Early returns released Saturday indicate a clear victory for the yes campaign.
"The Irish people have spoken with a clear and resounding voice," Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, who lead the charge for the treaty's approval, said in a statement to reporters in Dublin. "It is a good day for Ireland, and a good day for Europe."
The results illustrate how the global financial crisis has forced hard-hit nations like Ireland to find new value in their E.U. membership, reenergizing a project in cross-border governance that some said would never work.
The about-face, analysts say, appeared to be driven at least in part by fear. [...]
Read the rest to see why.