Sunday, May 29, 2005

It is your sovereign decision and I take note

In Latvia, hundreds of farm animals have been killed this weekend by swarms of flies.

A NYT Styles section article on how expensive it is to provide teenagers all the toys they require to maintain their social standing (iPods, portable DVD players, cellphones with cameras, etc) is headlined, “‘But I Neeeeeeed It!’ She Suggested.” (The author was probably thinking of what an English professor once described as the greatest sentence in English literature, by Ring Lardner: “‘Shut up,’ he explained.”)

The rest of this post will be devoted to the French referendum.

I’m moderately pleased with the French rejection of the proposed European Union constitution (55% to 45%, on a turnout of 70%), a document I disliked for its failure to significantly democratize the EU’s institutions, for its subordination of EU foreign policy to NATO, and because I think it will be bad for workplace rights. Apostate Windbag makes roughly the same arguments, at greater length, as does Doug Ireland, who also makes some predictions for what the rejection will mean in France and beyond.

I would be more than moderately pleased if 1) xenophobia and racism didn’t play such a large part in the defeat, albeit alongside more worthy motives, and 2) I had a clearer idea what will happen next (it would also be nice if the progressives who oppose the draft constitution were clearer in expressing an alternative). The constitution will be enacted if 20 nations (of 25) sign up, and many are ensuring that by refusing to hold a referendum, as was the case with all 9 which have already ratified. But if it also fails in the Netherlands’ referendum Wednesday, Britain will have to cancel its own referendum plans. Blair was hoping that the majority opposing the EU const now would be changed by the time of referendum by a sense of inevitability, which is now lost. While he could skip the referendum and get his tame Parliament to sign up, it would look bad, really really bad, and do great damage to the Labour party.

The constitution can, and may well be, forced through against the wills of the majority of the population of Britain, France and several other EU nations (possibly after some minor cosmetic rewriting), but that would just increase Europeans’ estrangement from their own governments and the EU’s. Once it became clear that today’s referendum would fail, if not by how much, French politicians started talking about holding a second one later in the process (the Danes were forced to re-vote on the Treaty of Maastricht after first rejecting it in 1992), to give the French people the opportunity to see the error of their ways and make the right and inevitable decision, which is exactly the sort of elite arrogance that the French voters threw le poop at today. They’ve been treated for years (all Western Europeans have) to condescending talk about the inevitability of EU integration and the free market, the sort of thing Thomas Friedman says about globalization, and you know how irritating it is listening to Friedman talk about globalization.

This defeat also puts off for years any possibility of Turkey entering the EU, I would think.

(Update:) Chirac: “France has expressed itself democratically. It is your sovereign decision and I take note.” Great, ‘cause their may be a short quiz later.

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