That small nations might be free

The voters of the Republic of Ireland have rejected the Lisbon
Treaty in a referendum. Already the cry has gone up that the “people
have no right to do wrong”, and that Britannia’s sons have sailed in
with their unclear sources of funding but this time on the anti-Treaty
side.

Reactions from around Europe have been extraordinary. The scheme of
attempting to deny a national electorate a vote on the content of the
EU constitution after joining the Union continues apace; apparently
the Irish must make do with a yes or no to unamendable laws decided a
few hundred miles to the South-east, which benighted arrangement I
seem to recall having been rejected in 1782.

Some are even going so far as to suggest the expulsion of the
Republic of Ireland from the EU. You might need to not understand
democracy to think this way, or to be French or something: when
France’s Fourth Republic was overthrown by the Algerian military in a
coup d’état in 1957, colonies which did not adopt the
Fifth Republic constitution were immediately expelled from the
Empire.

What is confusing some people is that they wish the EU were a
country in the same way as the United States, where people are
prepared to accept country-wide democratic majorities. It is a simple
matter of empirically determinable fact that no such sentiment exists
for the EU: people are not prepared to accept EU-wide majoritarianism
as binding. For a single tiny state to block the constitutional
development of such a polity would be outrageous: in Australia, where
constitutional referendums are routine, a combination of half the
states is required to block an amendment. The EU just is not such a
federation at present, so these people need to whiten their knuckles
around the cool bars of reality.

The people, fit or unfit, wise or unwise, must rule. If that means
the Irish rule the EU, so be it.

And the world did gaze in deep amaze at those fearless men but few,
who fought the fight that freedom’s light might shine throught the
Foggy Dew.

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