AGAINST EU Referendums



Referendums are a demagogue’s dream. They allow popularist politicians to sidestep complex issues and concentrate on scaremongering. Fears of Polish plumbers dominated France’s 2005 rejection of the European Constitution while abortion loomed large in Ireland’s 2008 “no” vote on Lisbon, even though the treaty had nothing to say about it.



The European Union has 502 million citizens. Just 109,964 Irish votes prevented them getting a better functioning, more democratically accountable EU. That was the winning margin for the “no” vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum. National referendums on EU questions are fundamentally undemocratic by allowing tiny minorities to dictate to the majority.



Would you ask José Manuel Barroso to fix your car, Mario Monti to do you a perm or Angela Merkel to fill your root canal? So why ask mechanics, hairstylists, or dentists to do the highly complex work of running the EU? Leave it to professionals. The man or woman in the street has neither the time nor the inclination to read hundreds of pages on permanent structured cooperation or fiscal compacts, so why ask them to make the decisions? That’s what we pay our politicians for.



Voters bemused by complex EU issues use referendums for protest votes against the government of the day. Positive developments get blocked for no good reason. Disgruntled Greek voters may well have rejected the “haircut” on sovereign debt if the referendum had gone ahead last year, even though it was the only way to keep their economy afloat and prevent euro-zone chaos. Referendums are too disruptive, dangerous and inefficient for modern-world policy making.