The Lisbon Treaty

It’s time for everyone’s favourite hot-button topic: the Lisbon treaty. Fun times ahead!

My cousin, who occasionally reads this blog (hello!), was telling me about the reason he voted ‘no’ during the last referendum. Or rather, the reason he would have voted ‘no’ if he had actually been registered to vote.

“I’d have voted no because the government wanted me to vote yes.”

It’s an interesting reason, but not that unusual. Lots of people voted/are voting ‘no’ simply because they want to “stick it” to a government that they are increasingly mistrustful and resentful of. The Irish people feel like their government isn’t actually on their side. For example, many people argue that NAMA is designed to bail out the bankers at the expense of the taxpayer. Photos from the recent Dáil debate don’t really help us to feel like there’s any reason to doubt that. And when you get overblown, selfish and mercenary fucksocks like Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary (pictured here with a personal message for you) coming out in support of the “yes” campaign, well, that just confirms people’s suspicions. We’ve all seen his vision for the airline of the future, why should we presume that he would want anything less for the people of his country? Professor of comparative political behavior at Trinity College, Michael Marsh, points out “for some people, the intervention of big business confirms that this is not good for workers.”

So why would my cousin vote ‘no’ a second time (again, if he was on the register)?

“I’d vote no because I really hate that thing of ‘You got a referendum and you MADE THE WRONG CHOICE. Now try again.'”

It’s true that the referendum is basically the same as it was the last time. What’s changed is the fact that Ireland has secured a number of legal guarantees regarding a number of the core issues that caused people to vote ‘no’ last time. It means that the Lisbon treaty does not and cannot affect Ireland’s constitution on the subjects of security, defense and right to life. Ignore these militant (read: demented nutball) anti-Lisbon groups who say that, no, this is not the case and that these “guarantees” are “as useful as a politician’s promise, and just as easily broken.” Coir still insist that Lisbon would introduce abortion laws. On the other hand, the Irish Bishops say that this is not the case, and Irish people can vote either way in good conscience. Now, which group would you turn to for your moral guidance?

A ‘no’ result would fuck us. And we’re talking the terrifying hard pounding of a prison rape, not the gentle, tender feathery stroking we’ve experienced in the last year. But as well as the effect it would have on Ireland and its economy, imagine what it would do to Europe. Everyone’s favourite little megalomaniacal midget, Berlusconi, has been once again throwing around the idea of creating a ‘two tier’ Europe, where some animals are more equal than others. This from a man who threatened to block all EU business unless Commission spokespeople STFU about Italy’s immigration policies. Can you imagine what happens if there’s a ‘no’ result and Ireland takes his place as the red-headed stepchild of Europe? Ouch.

The other reason lots of people voted ‘no’ in the first referendum was because they said that it was too complicated. In a way, this is a fair point, I’ve always believed in the idea of not signing my name to a contract I don’t fully understand. But it’s been a year since people first became aware of the Lisbon treaty and this isn’t a viable excuse any more. If you don’t understand the contract, you owe it to yourself and the person whose contract it is to go off and figure it out. As Owen Corrigan put it in his article in the Tribune, this made last year’s ‘no’ result “less a triumph of democracy for the voters of a ruggedly independent state, and more a triumph of ignorance in the face of reason, rationality and responsibility.” (Seriously, if you read nothing else in this whole campaign, I urge you to read this article.)

In the end though, I guess a lot of people will vote based less on the issues and more on ridiculous external factors, like who is encouraging you to vote what way. Sure, Michael O’Leary wants you to vote ‘yes,’ but David Icke, the ‘I am the son of God and the world is ruled by giant lizards’ guy wants you to ‘no.’ Think about that.


7 thoughts on “The Lisbon Treaty

  1. Robin says:
    Couldn’t agree more. I hate these people voting no because they’re “sick of the government”. Vote no on the treaty if you want, but don’t fuck up the ballot by voting on some stupid secondary reasoning. Just to add fuel to the fire, if we don’t vote yes, I reckon we’ll have the IMF picking at Ireland assets within 5 years once NAMA explodes in the government’s face. I’m really must go to the consulate to figure out absentee voting…
  2. Alb says:
    There was another reason people, myself included, voted no. It wasn’t because the government wanted us to vote yes, but the way they told us to vote yes, without providing any real case as to why we should. They treated the public like children believing they would do whatever they told us to do and I’m glad there was a negative reaction to this. Unfortunately when it comes down to the vote this time I really have to question what people are going to base their decision on. To make an informed vote you need to read the treaty, understand the changes and understand the future consequences of the changes for Ireland and Europe as a whole. I think it’s more likely poeple will follow an interest group or political figure. Mainly though I think fear will determine how people vote. People had money in their pockets last time and voted no for fear of change. Now things aren’t going so well and the fear is that they stay the same so I’m quite sure we’ll see a yes vote win out.
  3. Whybot says:
    When all the political parties (with the natural exceptions of the Sinners/SWP – say) are urging a Yes vote, including any I’ve supported previously, I’m inclined to take heed, regardless of how well the campaign has been run. Most of the people I consider informed about European politics and am politically aligned with on some level are voting Yes. I have no plans to read the document itself. For me, it is likely snooze-inducing. My own vague intuitions are based on a little reading of secondary sources and what others I align myself with and respect are doing. I’m happy enough with that. If I had absolutely no clue, I’d abstain. There has been much open public discussion since the aftermath of the previous referendum and there exists a surfeit of information about this one. “Not-enough-info” really only works if you don’t plan to vote.
  4. Gar says:
    What do you mean occasionally???? (Hello right back at ‘cha) I can say these things because I’m not registered. I do realise that Lisbon is needed, but I thought Ireland was a democracy. We said no. Last time I checked, no meant no. This is why I would vote no again. So what if its ratified this time around. Do the no campaigners get the ‘third strike’ option? Well we’re tied 1 apiece, now it’s down to sudden death? I don’t think so. If yes was voted the first time, could the no side have turned around and said “well I don’t think that’s the correct answer, let’s have another referendum’. They would have been told “go forth and multiply” (though not in as many words). Ah fuk it. I hate politics.
  5. Gar says:
    No offence, but you sound like every yes campaigner out there (and the government also). We had a referendum. It didn’t go the way you wanted it to, so lets do it again. Imagine a world cup final, France v’s Ireland. France win 3-0. Oh wait. I dont think that score should count, we demand a rematch. In fact, we want rematches until we win. And thats as far as my sporting metaphors can take me. I know that at some point someone will tell me “but you didn’t vote, you don’t have a say in the matter”, well I gave up voting after the Nice disaster. Remember that one? Whats the point in voting if they are going to ignore you. On another note, why not vote no, force a general election, get rid of Cowen and his muppets and when we get a decent (ha!) government, and then hold a 3rd Lisbon. After all 3 times the charm. Anyhows, I like cake.

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