‘Vote early and often’ is an age-old catch-phrase on the Irish political scene. While the occasional super-democrat may have interpreted it literally, most people took it in the humorous tongue-in-cheek manner that it was offered. That is, until the Dublin government failed to get the Nice Treaty passed by referendum in June 2001. It was then that people started to see the true nature of ‘democracy’ in both the EU and the Twenty-Six Counties. Whatever about voting early, it was clear that ‘vote often’ was the way forward when it came to EU treaties, or more precisely ‘vote often’ until a majority vote YES.
Like the spoilt child footballer claiming he wasn’t ready for the penalty kick the Dublin government claimed the YES camp hadn’t been ready to run a strong campaign. And like the spoilt child, who also happens to own the football, the Dublin government decreed that the electorate would vote again on Nice.
For sixteen months the YES camp spent countless millions of euros promoting the politics of fear through the state and private media. Unsurprisingly the electorate eventually succumbed and passed the Nice Treaty in October 2002.
Fast forward to June 2008 and the people of the Twenty-Six Counties reject the successor to the Nice Treaty, in the form of the Lisbon Treaty. On this occasion the establishment political parties spend all of thirty seconds pretending they would respect the decision of the people, before floating the idea of a second referendum.
And again, right on cue, a weak YES campaign was sited as a key ‘reason’ for the NO vote. Sixteen months of scaremongering later and tomorrow (October 2nd) the electorate of the Twenty-Six Counties are again to vote on exactly the same Lisbon Treaty that they have already rejected.
Whatever about the content of the Lisbon Treaty the method by which the second referendum campaign has been fought should be of deep concern to all democrats. The YES coalition that has emerged over the last three months has contained not just the establishment political parties and trade unions, but also big business and virtually every media outlet - both private and public.
The emergence of such a coalition highlights, perhaps in the most blatant way ever, where power really lies in the Twenty-Six Counties. Millions upon millions of euros have been spend bombarding the population with a pro-EU agenda for sixteen months. The message coming from Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour has been indistinguishable from that coming from Ryanair, Intel, RTE and IBEC. Even the allegedly ‘independent’ referendum commission have been brought out to bat for the YES camp.
There is of course a name for this phenomenon, where the will of the people is ignored; where the state and private corporations work together to achieve a political objective; where those who disagree with that objective are labelled, marginalised and attacked. Fascism. Perhaps not the totalitarian, death camp version of Nazi Germany, but fascism nevertheless. What is at stake here is not just the Lisbon Treaty but the very future of democracy itself. A YES vote will be one more deep cut in the death of a thousand cuts that the EU has planned for national sovereignty and democracy across Europe.
Unsurprisingly the actual content of the Lisbon Treaty promotes the interests of both the political and business class who have been so enthusiastically promoting it. In political terms it enshrines a limited form of representative democracy which allows a few hundred people take decisions that affect the lives of 500 million. In economic terms it enshrines a capitalist system which encourages social cannibalism, whereby one small section of society grows ever wealthier at the expense of the rest of society.
The decision that the electorate of the Twenty-Six Counties take tomorrow will affect the future of not only that state but of the entire EU. While the opinion polls indicate that the Treaty will be comfortably carried, anecdotal evidence from the campaign trail suggests otherwise. In working class communities in particular the NO vote appears to be as strong as it was sixteen months ago. If the NO vote mobilises tomorrow a spectacular victory is on the cards. for It is still all to play for.
If you have a vote on Lisbon, use it to support democracy and freedom and VOTE NO. And encourage your family, neighbours and friends to VOTE NO as well. Together we can consign the Lisbon Treaty to history.