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My own thoughts on Lisbon [Jun. 11th, 2008|02:50 pm]
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So, most of the Irish people are doing this so I thought I'd put up my own thoughts on Lisbon. However, it should be noted that I'm voting the way I'm voting for one of the worst possible reasons, which I'll detail under the cut.

Initial statement

If you don't know me that well, it should be mentioned that I like to vote whenever I have the chance - I don't think there an election that I've been eligible to vote in, where I've been in the country, that I haven't posted a ballot.

History and Nice

So, I mentioned that I have a really bad reason for how I'm going to vote. You see, when I vote there are certain principles that I hold to. If I understand the issues, I will vote for or against the amendment. If I do not understand them, I'll either vote no or I'll spoil my vote.

Back in 2000 I remember the first referendum on the Nice treaty - I didn't know what was going on, so I spoilt my ballot. I was initially thinking No, but then I realised I just didn't know enough about it to vote either way. I still wanted to vote (for some reason I take even the right to post my ballot seriously) so I spoiled it.

The end result of that election was that Ireland rejected the Nice treaty. Within weeks, the EU and our own government came back to tell us all that we voted wrong. The people had rejected the treaty, and they just belted us with it again because, according to the EU, we voted wrong. You have no idea how much that got people's backs up.

I voted no in the second referendum - if I was wrong the first time, I didn't care. I especially didn't like the fact that we were asked twice because the first time we gave an answer that they didn't want.

This time the treaty passed. I'm still not entirely sure of its contents - I remember trying to decipher it... not fun.

That was then, this is now

Here we are again with a say in our position in the EU. Now, it should be mentioned that I like the EU to a large degree... it's good for equality rights, and we've gotten a lot of money in our direction, but at the same time, I'm not really letting that influence my views on the Treaty.

Once again, this is a treaty that isn't put simply to us. Both sides are crying out with slogans of "Good/bad for us". Both sides make the same kind of claims promising prosperity/depression, power/powerlessness in this new union, without really saying why. The treaty itself is damn near impenetrable, although several people have sat down and tried to look at article 48, and others have looked at the new structures.

Looking at the referendum site, they mention how a commissioner for the European Commission is chosen from a portion, most likely 2/3 of the member states, and rotated every 5 years. So that means that every 5 out of 15, Ireland has no place in the commission. Given that a week is a long time in politics, 5 years is an eternity. Of course, I haven't seen any clean explanation of what the powers of the commission are, so I don't know how much it will affect us. However, I'm always concerned when a democratic union has decisions made by only two thirds of its members.

Then there's article 48, weee-hooo, give me some cocaine and I might believe I understand it after 2 days without sleep. Of course, that's when the fairy counsel start deciding matters in my head. However, when I read it, and when I see what a friend of mine tried to explain it as, I see two very different things.

Now, I'm someone who has sat down and written proposals and constitutions of various bodies - ok they're mainly college related, but from that I gathered simple ideas of what treaties, law and such bits of prose should be. They are essentially programs governing how things should operate - I've always held the belief that lawyers and programmers have a bit more in common than they might initially think - and like any good program should be simple to read, and most of all, should be unambiguous.

I can point to lots of sources saying it's ambiguous. Best of all, even the Referendum commissioners handbook says on page 5, that with regard to certain procedures "The precise details of how this will operate in practice have yet to be decided". That's ambiguous. When it's ambiguous in one language in a multi-lingual union, that's not going to be a fun thing at all.

When I think of this, I generally feel that "no" is in order not because I don't understand it, but because even "impartial" sources are saying there's ambiguity. To a programmer, an ambiguity is a bug, and I don't want to put buggy code into a production system.

The bad reason I really want to vote no

I've made it clear that I don't understand the treaty. Actually, no, I know enough to know that I don't understand it. That leaves me voting on the psychology of the election.

So, what do I see, I see the Yes camp right off the mark, putting up posters well before No got their act together. I see all the big government parties saying Yes, that's FF, FG, Labour, PDs... they're all fighting hard on this one. Yet I've seen very little other than slogans from them. I see slogans from No as well, but occasionally someone who's half-decent in the No camp will refer to an article in there and say "This worries me because of X", but sites likes Yes to Lisbon just have slogans and no real references to the parts of the treaty.

And all of this reminds me heavily of Nice, big parties trying to say "It'll be alright just vote yes" and shuffle us into that position, while not really giving us good reasons. The thing was, they're doing it a little more vigourously than Nice. So, it makes me think they don't want it to happen again.

This all leads to my really bad reason - we voted No to Nice, and they tried to smack us back because the EU bopped our heads of state on the nose and said "Bad Ireland. Vote again and get it right this time.", and there is something I don't like about that. There is a sense of, "Your opinion only counts if it's our opinion", and I don't like that... and the divil in me really wants to see what happens if we come out and say "No".

As I said from the start, it's probably the worst reason imaginable, but if this is the same Europe that left that Nice taste in my mouth, then I'm not in favour of them.

[User Picture]From: timeslider
2008-06-11 03:43 pm (UTC)
Its not the worst reason to be honest.
I can think of a lot worse reasons to be voting no. See Coir or SF handouts for more details..

My endearing memory from Nice mark 1 is Bertie Ahern within 24 hours saying we would have to vote again on it...

There is a slight difference this time that the treaty must be ratified by the end of the year. It was about 18 months between Nice 1 and 2.

If its rejected, the only hope is to try to have another vote on it by Christmas and there will be war if they try that one.

A large part of me wants to see what will happeen if we do vote no.

If the EU is supposed to be democratic then surely it should accept our rejection of the Treaty. There is only one was to test it though.
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[User Picture]From: fractal_rainbow
2008-06-11 03:52 pm (UTC)
I am actually planning to vote NO for similar reasons. I don't like what was done with the Nice treaty, and this feels like same shit, different election.
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[User Picture]From: ebel
2008-06-11 04:57 pm (UTC)
I'm largely in agreement with you. But there is something to be said for a healthy distrust of the man. The first thing I saw about Lisbon was *everyone* saying vote yes. It just felt fishy that the unions and the employers agreed on something, the greens and FF and FG and Labour agreed on something.

Heck it doesn't matter. If treaty is rejected, they'll keep passing it till we all vote the right way. Might as well annoy Them™.
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