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Friday, July 17, 2009

EU Commissioner: People are too stupid for referendums

Spanish EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has told El Mundo that the Lisbon Treaty is too complex to be submitted to a referendum.

He said: “I think matters which are as complex as a constitution or similar must be discussed in the systems available to democracy, or rather, in parliaments”.

He added that it is not “very democratic” to hold a referendum on issues which require a specific knowledge from the citizen. He said “It doesn’t seem to me that this procedure is the best example of democracy because referendums, in order for them to genuinely be something which citizens feel comfortable with and not pressured, they must be presented with very clear and simple questions”. He had previously said “presenting someone with a treaty with around 300 articles which require, to be understood, a certain education in European law is very complex”.

What's so hard? The EU institutions are desperate to keep people under the illusion that everything the EU does is far too high-brow and complicated for them to worry their little wooden heads about. Yes, the Treaty is ridiculously long and complex, full of boring EU jargon (whose fault is that?) But it's not difficult to wittle it down to the simple question - do you want to give the EU more power, or not?

Anyway, why is he saying all this? It's not as if Spain is toying with the idea of a referendum. No, he is just joining a long list of European politicians sticking their oar into the upcoming Irish vote.

Perhaps the most interesting thing though is the seamless interchangeability of the words "EU Constitution" and "Lisbon Treaty", which he, just like everyone else, knows is exactly the same thing. Even the headline reads: "Only MPs should vote on the European Constitution". Funny that.


Anonymous said...

I'm totally with you on this but Spain did give her people a referendum on the constitution/treaty, in 2005.

Open Europe blog team said...


They voted yes - and guess what - didn't have to vote again!

Turnout was 42%. Compared with 69% in France, 62% in the Netherlands, and 53% in Ireland - all of which voted no, but were ignored and overridden.

gfkw47 said...

How arrogant of any politician to say that the electorate is not capable of understanding the EU constitution. I wonder how many MPs and MEPs understand it.

The UN Commission for Human Rights says that democcray is an essential part of our Human Rights. It also says that democracy includes, inter alia, the right to have transparent and accountable government institutions and the right to choose our governmental systems.

I woonder who would claim that we have either of these things?