The Irish government has published the results of opinion research, carried out by the polling company Millward Brown IMS, into the reasons for the recent Irish NO vote on the Lisbon Treaty (a.k.a. the European Constitution). And guess what. The two key reasons why the people voted NO were that (A) they didn’t understand it; (B) they had misconceptions about it.
No one would cast any doubts on the work of a professional and independent polling organisation. But it is uncanny the way that the research found just what the Irish government — and the EU — wanted to hear.
Every so often the Brussels institutions are brought up sharp by the dissent of the people. The Danes on Maastricht. The Irish on Nice. The French and Dutch on the Constitution. And now the Irish (again!) on Lisbon — the re-heated Constitution. Brussels tries to ignore it. They try to shrug it off. Their only concession to reality is to wring their hands and say “Perhaps we haven’t done enough to explain the project to the people”. Then they vote through a budget line for more EU “information” (a.k.a. propaganda).
My own experience is that the more I explain the EU to voters, the angrier they get.
This is the EU that claims to be “a union of values based on democracy and the rule of law”. The hell it is. Their contempt for the voters is overwhelming. They are determined to ride rough-shod over public opinion, and they do so again and again. The Lisbon Treaty itself is an attempt to over-ride the French and Dutch NO votes — and there is no plan to let those countries vote again, because they would undoubtedly vote NO again.
What will they do this time? I think they are edging towards a second Irish referendum. They may strip out those elements of the Treaty that simply reaffirm parts of existing treaties. They may — if they have to — get cosmetic opt-outs on, say, defence policy or abortion rights. They may even try to slip those changes through in the Dail rather than by referendum.
But I have a prediction: if they do offer the Irish people a second chance to vote, they will get a second NO. How they will cope with that is anyone’s guess.
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