Sarkozy admits the French would have voted NO to Lisbon

With his boundless energy and boyish enthusiasm, diminutive French President Nicolas Sarkozy is reminiscent of Zebedee, the spring-loaded character from The Magic Roundabout (“Byoing!” said Zebedee).  But it can lead him into trouble.  Sarkozy made no attempt to hide his opinion that following the NO vote in the Lisbon Referendum, Ireland would just have to vote again until they got the right answer — as they did in the Nice Treaty Referendum in 2001. But the two situations are very different.  In 2001, turnout was only 35%, and it was (relatively) easy to argue that the outcome did not reflect the true views of the Irish people.  In 2008, the arguments on both sides were debated vigorously.  And the turnout was 53%.  The conventional wisdom was that the Noes could only win on a low turnout.  If turnout was above 40%, they said, there would be enough good, sensible, pro-EU Irish voters to deliver a Yes.  But despite the views of the commentariat, the NO side won.
You can ask an electorate to re-vote once, following a low turnout.  To ask them to do it a second time after a 50%+ turnout is a different matter.  Certainly Sarkozy’s suggestion that they vote again provoked considerable anger in Dublin, and on his visit earlier this week, he was obliged to back-pedal as fast as he could, and speak of “respecting the verdict of the people”.  Indeed Sarkozy seems to have caused as much offence post-referendum as Peter Mandelson did pre-referendum, with his claims that Irish farmers were “liars” (well done Peter — you probably won it for the NO side!).  Nonetheless Sarkozy made it clear that Brussels and Paris see the Irish NO as a problem for Ireland, not a problem for Europe.  They are dumping it back firmly in the lap of the Irish government, and telling them to find a way to sort it out.
At an EPP (political group) meeting in Paris a couple of weeks ago, Sarkozy, in an unguarded moment, admitted that if the French had been required to vote again on Lisbon (following their NO vote on the very similar EU Constitution in 2005), they too would have voted No.  Sarkozy seemed very proud of his cleverness in avoiding a new French referendum.  In fact he had slipped a commitment to parliamentary ratification into the late stages of his Presidential campaign, when voters’ minds were on other things.  I was not at the Paris meeting (I am of course not a member of the EPP group), so I did not hear Sarkozy’s statement.  But several of those who were there have told me the same story.
This is yet another illustration of the appalling cynicism of the EU’s ruling clique, and their towering contempt for voters and for the democratic process.  But then we already knew that, didn’t we?

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