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 Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice

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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 10:22 am

Edo's has an interesting viewpoint on the middle classes and the Lisbon Treaty. The perceived fears of the middle classes (be they based on immigration, economics or a combination of factors) will play a part in the outcome of the referendum. However, their fears are only coming home to roost, so to speak. They were quite happy to accept the government line on immigration because they believed it would never impact on them. They were happy to to let construction and factory places be contested on a reduction on real wages through immigration. But why did they think they were immune? Surely once the lower classes were clamped into a minimum wage bracket, and it was seen to be workable and acceptable to the majority, the employers would start to eye-up the middle wages earners with a view to lowering wage bills and putting a cap on middle income earnings. While the slow down in the economy will help the employers arguments for wage "restraint", the employers will also have no better time to recruit new lower wage employees and, imo, the Lisbon Treaty's outcome won't impact on this development one way or the other.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 12:00 pm

rockyracoon wrote:
Edo's has an interesting viewpoint on the middle classes and the Lisbon Treaty. The perceived fears of the middle classes (be they based on immigration, economics or a combination of factors) will play a part in the outcome of the referendum. However, their fears are only coming home to roost, so to speak. They were quite happy to accept the government line on immigration because they believed it would never impact on them. They were happy to to let construction and factory places be contested on a reduction on real wages through immigration. But why did they think they were immune? Surely once the lower classes were clamped into a minimum wage bracket, and it was seen to be workable and acceptable to the majority, the employers would start to eye-up the middle wages earners with a view to lowering wage bills and putting a cap on middle income earnings. While the slow down in the economy will help the employers arguments for wage "restraint", the employers will also have no better time to recruit new lower wage employees and, imo, the Lisbon Treaty's outcome won't impact on this development one way or the other.

Interesting post Rockyracoon. It was an amazement to me how little comment there was on immigration, given it was such a massive turnaround after 150 odd years of emigration. When I came back to Ireland ( and I know this was other people's experience too ) it was just before the boom and there was no welcome for returned migrants. Every job was hard fought over. I was doing something that there wasn't much competition over, but I know other people who came back who found work colleagues hostile.

But by the time the main wave of migration started, there were severe shortages of people in all kinds of work. Wages weren't stable but in many areas including construction were going through the roof and we were becoming a very expensive and non competitive economy. The benefits of higher wages weren't translating into better living standards because of inflation and poor services. I think the silence about immigration was partly because most people knew that we needed them. There was also a spoken and unspoken welcome for new people as a good thing in itself, especially in rural areas with an aging population.

The threat now coming down the line to wages is mainly from unemployment - recession across the world economy and our own relative weak and uncompetitive position in it are driving that IMHO and not the presence of new population. The second threat is from the trend in the EU - and in recent cases - to allow employers to pay immigrant workers at the rate of the country of origin and not at the country they are working in (as was the case with GAMMA and others). This if implemented would cause enormous social and economic disruption and I trust will be resisted by Trade Unions across Europe.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 2:53 pm

cactus flower wrote:


The threat now coming down the line to wages is mainly from unemployment - recession across the world economy and our own relative weak and uncompetitive position in it are driving that IMHO and not the presence of new population. The second threat is from the trend in the EU - and in recent cases - to allow employers to pay immigrant workers at the rate of the country of origin and not at the country they are working in (as was the case with GAMMA and others). This if implemented would cause enormous social and economic disruption and I trust will be resisted by Trade Unions across Europe.

And may I draw your attention to this excellent long-term economic forecasts from Deutsche Bank, Global Growh Centres, Ireland is forecast to have the fastest rate of economic growth in the rich world out to 2020. Our 3.8% average economic growth will stand far above other countries like Switzerland and Gernamy.

With such high-class dynamism ahead of us, I view these current issues as mere wrinkles that will be surmounted within the next 2 years.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 4:12 pm

A-T, I just have to rebut your sentiments a wee bit. As someone who makes a nice little part-time earner from taking a view and positions in different markets (equites, commodities, etc.) I know how hard it is to predict what will happen in a couple of days; let alone a couple of years. It is not so much prediciting future events based on sound principles and probablistic assumptions but what the unforseen ramifications will be in differing times and environments.

No doubt Ireland is better able today to withstand short term market disclocations than it was in the past. I put this down to more to confidence in ourselves to play in the game in the world arena than actual long term industrial or economic achievements. Our best achievements have been the attraction of inward investment, a sophisticated financial set-up and the ability of a few key entrepeneurs to break onto the world stage. Our biggest mistake, imo, has been the gross over-reliance on property speculation and the attendant short sighted get rich today mentality that underlies the speculative policies. If we don't use the confidence and take a view on what constitutes long term success in fairly short order our growth rates may not be of that much use to the ordinary citizen. And what use, I ask, if we have high growth and it doesn't benefit our entire society and that of the future generations who inhabit this island?
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 6:12 pm

seinfeld wrote:
Kate P wrote:
seinfeld wrote
Quote :
In fact, in the past, provisions of Finance Acts have been found to be unconstitutional, but no such finding has ever been made about an EU Treaty.

Anthony Coughlan, Raymond Crotty and Patricia McKenna have all taken successful actions regarding treaties.

Crotty sought an injunction preventing the Government from ratifying the SEA. The Oireachtas had not ratified the SEA at that time. Had it done, the SEA would have been found to be unconstitutional, but it only became part of Irish legislation after the constitution had been amended.

Coughlan/McKenna sought an injunction preventing the Government from spending state funds on promoting a particular vote in a Referendum on Nice. No part of that Treaty was found to be unconstitutional.

On the contrary, numerous sections of Acts passed by the Oireachtas have been found to be unconstitutional, yet there is never a clamour to put Bills before the people in Referenda.

If we have already amended the Constitution to allow the Oireachtas transpose EU Law into Irish Law, why are we amending it again?

Need to take this in steps:

Last question first - we need to have a referendum in order to decide if we are happy to allow the government to bind Ireland to this new treaty because it goes beyond the scope of the existing treaties. That is the test set by the Supreme Court in the Crotty case. If it was not extending the scope of the EU or changing its nature in a significant new way we would not need a referendum. Contrary to what some Yes advocates say the government is not having this referendum just to be nice to us. We get it because we have a right to it. Hard fought right at that.

Now to the difference between Bills/Acts and EU treaties. Bills are adopted under the Constitutional framework of lawmaking. They are then called Acts. If the lawmakers make a mistake in a piece of domestic law by breaching some Constitutionally guaranteed right then under our Constitution a Court may, if asked by a citizen, strike down that part of the Act. The important difference between those ordinary domestic Acts and anything done under our membership of the EU (for example passing an Act to give effect to some EU directive or regulation) is this: there is a special provision in the Constitution which says that no laws of that kind (ie EU sourced) can be challenged under our Constitution. That is a big immunity they have. There is no such immunity for ordinary non-EU derived laws.

All of which means that we generally do not put ordinary Bills to the people in referenda - but there can be exceptions - of which the most famous is the Divorce law: the provisions that the Oireachtas wanted to write into the Divorce Bill were contained in the wording of the Divorce referendum. That was thought to be a good thing as it would reassure people that the wording would not be watered down afterwards by the Oireachtas.

There is a connection between that Divorce Act and the EU in that a couple of years later the EU adopted a measure that in effect changed some of our divorce rules - overriding our Constitutional provision on divorce, and because of the immunity that EU measures enjoy, no one here could challenge that under our Constitution. Controversial move that, and apparently all done by the EU under some treaty provision to do with easing movement of workers around the EU or the like....


You are off the mark in relation to Coughlan/McKenna - they were two different cases. Coughlan succeeded in showing that RTE was behaving unlawfully in allocating broadcasting time during referenda to political parties - which are not mentioned at all in the Constitution and had no right to be priviledged in this way by the national broadcaster during what is solely a matter for decision by us as citizens.

McKenna was successful in showing that the government had behaved illegally in using public money to advocate a particular vote in a referendum. Again the reasoning was similar. The government had no right to use the public's money, of which it was like a trustee, to tell the public how they should vote in a referendum about the public's own Constitution.

There has been an intensification in recent years of this tendency by the public representatives to regard themselves as entitled to decide everything. They forget the demarcation lines in the Constitution very easily, and it is left to brave citizens to risk everything in Court action time after time to try to hold the line. Not easy. Ironic that the same politicians bemoan a lack of public interest in politics these days.

So there you have it. Hope it makes sense.


Last edited by Helium Three on Sat May 10, 2008 6:25 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 6:21 pm

Controversial move that, and apparently all done by the EU under some treaty provision to do with easing movement of workers around the EU or the like....

This is perhaps why I am reluctant to devote a large part of my life to deciphering and parsing the Treaty. My feeling is that most of the things the No campaign fear might happen could already happen under existing arrangements.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 6:27 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Controversial move that, and apparently all done by the EU under some treaty provision to do with easing movement of workers around the EU or the like....

This is perhaps why I am reluctant to devote a large part of my life to deciphering and parsing the Treaty. My feeling is that most of the things the No campaign fear might happen could already happen under existing arrangements.


Very understandable! Yet that reluctance in a way sums up our dilemma if we are to be politically aware these days.

In fact some perhaps could, depending on whose fears we look at, but certainly more and significant ones will if Lisbon gets the nod.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 6:38 pm

Helium Three wrote:
seinfeld wrote:
Kate P wrote:
seinfeld wrote
Quote :
In fact, in the past, provisions of Finance Acts have been found to be unconstitutional, but no such finding has ever been made about an EU Treaty.

Anthony Coughlan, Raymond Crotty and Patricia McKenna have all taken successful actions regarding treaties.

Crotty sought an injunction preventing the Government from ratifying the SEA. The Oireachtas had not ratified the SEA at that time. Had it done, the SEA would have been found to be unconstitutional, but it only became part of Irish legislation after the constitution had been amended.

Coughlan/McKenna sought an injunction preventing the Government from spending state funds on promoting a particular vote in a Referendum on Nice. No part of that Treaty was found to be unconstitutional.

On the contrary, numerous sections of Acts passed by the Oireachtas have been found to be unconstitutional, yet there is never a clamour to put Bills before the people in Referenda.

If we have already amended the Constitution to allow the Oireachtas transpose EU Law into Irish Law, why are we amending it again?

Need to take this in steps:

Last question first - we need to have a referendum in order to decide if we are happy to allow the government to bind Ireland to this new treaty because it goes beyond the scope of the existing treaties. That is the test set by the Supreme Court in the Crotty case. If it was not extending the scope of the EU or changing its nature in a significant new way we would not need a referendum. Contrary to what some Yes advocates say the government is not having this referendum just to be nice to us. We get it because we have a right to it. Hard fought right at that.

Crotty is the same red herring that is thrown into this debate every time.

Yes, the test relates to the scope of the Treaty is question, but in Crotty this test was applied twice: first, in relation to the various institutional changes that were included in the SEA and second to the provisions that foreign policy and common defense.

In the first instance, the test failed. The Supreme Court found that the institutional changes included in the SEA were forseen by our original membership of the EU, and that the wording of A29.1 was sufficient to guarantee the constitutionality of the SEA.

In the second instance, the test passed. The Supreme Court found that because our membership was primarily brought about for economic reasons, any treaty that proposed to extend the competence of the EU beyond economic matters was not covered by A29.1, and so Crotty was granted his injunction.

Hence, if you apply the test in relation to Lison, what part of Lisbon extends the competence of the EU beyond the scope of both our membership of the EU and the treaties that have arisen since?


Last edited by seinfeld on Sat May 10, 2008 6:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 6:43 pm

I think you are getting your first and second instances mixed up there seinfeld - you might want to edit them.

On your last question: the Attorney General is the person to answer that question for you, but I am guessing the government will not allow him to tell you.

But of course it is possible the government is risking humiliation by having a completely unnecessary vote I suppose Cool
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 6:47 pm

Helium Three wrote:
I think you are getting your first and second instances mixed up there seinfeld - you might want to edit them.

Sorted.

Helium Three wrote:

On your last question: the Attorney General is the person to answer that question for you, but I am guessing the government will not allow him to tell you.

It seems bizarre to me that we are being asked to amend the Constitution without being told why.

Helium Three wrote:

But of course it is possible the government is risking humiliation by having a completely unnecessary vote I suppose Cool

I think they are. Surely, some other state would be having a referendum if the treaty was as constitutionally significant as some are making it out to be.

And I haven't heard of any legal challenges to the ratification of the treaty in other jurisdictions either.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 6:54 pm

Bizarre it is. I agree with you there.

The English High Court is going to hear a case for a referendum. I think it is partly based on the fact that the Labour Party promised one in its manifesto and then reneged once elected. I would guess that the man bringing the case will also argue that it is in fact Constitutionally significant.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 7:08 pm

Isn't there a question in Germany about whether there should be a referendum there too?

Is it ethical/legal/honourable/sensible not to tell the people if there is a constitutional basis for the AG's decision? It hardly makes sense for us to be having a referendum on the cursed thing if we don't know what the referendum is really about. Or has that been clarified in the white paper or elsewhere?
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 7:18 pm

Kate P wrote:
Isn't there a question in Germany about whether there should be a referendum there too?

Is it ethical/legal/honourable/sensible not to tell the people if there is a constitutional basis for the AG's decision? It hardly makes sense for us to be having a referendum on the cursed thing if we don't know what the referendum is really about. Or has that been clarified in the white paper or elsewhere?

I did not know that - This story does not mention it, but that may not be up to date?.

I have seen no clear statement on the Why? question from the government side. I have seen evidence of a line being put out by their advocates in public debates that we do not really need one because Lisbon is really insignificant, and the only reason we are having a vote is to prevent another Crotty type challenge. A bit tortured that really, especially when set next to Dick Roche's recent claims that the treaty is 'revolutionary'. But then with Dick you never quite know...
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 7:26 pm

Helium Three wrote:
I have seen evidence of a line being put out by their advocates in public debates that we do not really need one because Lisbon is really insignificant, and the only reason we are having a vote is to prevent another Crotty type challenge.

From what I've heard on the various jungle drums, the Precautionary Principle appears to be in play.

In the referendum fails, I imagine that Government will seek to ratify the key institutional changes through the Oireachtas, or accept some sort of protocol from the EU which in effect ratifies the entire document but which allows us to opt out pending the outcome of some future constitutional arrangement, that will then never happen.

Technically, the Government has already ratified the Treaty, so unless someone challenges this in the Courts, the absense of an amendment shouldn't prevent the Treaty from coming into force.

The fact that all the main parties support the Treaty means that the political consequences of proceeding in this way are not particularly significant.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 7:28 pm

Austrians complaining I'm not sure how reliable the source is - but it's unlikely that the rally didn't take place.

This is a link to a German site for a people's initiative to demand a referendum - there's a demonstration planned in Berlin for 17 May in Potsdamer Platz.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 7:33 pm

Kate P wrote:
Austrians complaining I'm not sure how reliable the source is - but it's unlikely that the rally didn't take place.

This is a link to a German site for a people's initiative to demand a referendum - there's a demonstration planned in Berlin for 17 May in Potsdamer Platz.

Demonstrations and actual constitutional challenges are very different things.

If Governments operated according to the whims of demonstrators we'd be wearing our underwear on the outside and drinking soup with forks.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 7:36 pm

Thanks for the link Kate. I had forgotten that in German the Common Security and Defence Policy acronym becomes GASP. Seems about right!

Seinfeld, if the vote here is a No and the parties try to circumvent that, then drinking soup with forks will be the least of your worries....
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 7:42 pm

Kate P wrote:
Austrians complaining I'm not sure how reliable the source is - but it's unlikely that the rally didn't take place.

This is a link to a German site for a people's initiative to demand a referendum - there's a demonstration planned in Berlin for 17 May in Potsdamer Platz.

As far as I know, there is a German intiative every time to demand a referendum, but they're actually unconstitutional in Germany (outside Lander boundary changes).

seinfeld wrote:
From what I've heard on the various jungle drums, the Precautionary Principle appears to be in play.

That accords very much with what I've heard around. Like everyone else here, I find it pretty offensive that the AG's advice is not publicly available.

seinfeld wrote:
In
the referendum fails, I imagine that Government will seek to ratify the
key institutional changes through the Oireachtas, or accept some sort
of protocol from the EU which in effect ratifies the entire document
but which allows us to opt out pending the outcome of some future
constitutional arrangement, that will then never happen.

The more one looks at Nice, the more one realises that some of the key institutional changes are already in Nice - in particular, the reduction in size of the Commission. Unfortunately, the key change I would favour - the extension of codecision - is not.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 7:53 pm

seinfeld wrote:
Kate P wrote:
Austrians complaining I'm not sure how reliable the source is - but it's unlikely that the rally didn't take place.

This is a link to a German site for a people's initiative to demand a referendum - there's a demonstration planned in Berlin for 17 May in Potsdamer Platz.

Demonstrations and actual constitutional challenges are very different things.

If Governments operated according to the whims of demonstrators we'd be wearing our underwear on the outside and drinking soup with forks.

Often you'll find that when governments don't operate according to the whims of demonstrators, it's the people who end up drinking their soup with forks if they are lucky enough to have either. Burma, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Bloody Sunday... Why is it in this part of the world we assume that some demonstrations and demonstrators are more worthy than others? God forbid we allow people the right to associate and demonstrate.

'Whims' is an interesting choice of word there, seinfeld.

How many people have to voice an opinion before it's not considered a 'whim'?

I think you're right, ibis about the German request for a referendum each time. The German word for referendum translates literally as 'people's ballot.' It's hard to know which is worse, given their history: giving the people an opportunity to make a decision or denying them the opportunity.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 8:08 pm

Kate P wrote:
seinfeld wrote:
Kate P wrote:
Austrians complaining I'm not sure how reliable the source is - but it's unlikely that the rally didn't take place.

This is a link to a German site for a people's initiative to demand a referendum - there's a demonstration planned in Berlin for 17 May in Potsdamer Platz.

Demonstrations and actual constitutional challenges are very different things.

If Governments operated according to the whims of demonstrators we'd be wearing our underwear on the outside and drinking soup with forks.

Often you'll find that when governments don't operate according to the whims of demonstrators, it's the people who end up drinking their soup with forks if they are lucky enough to have either. Burma, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Bloody Sunday... Why is it in this part of the world we assume that some demonstrations and demonstrators are more worthy than others? God forbid we allow people the right to associate and demonstrate.

The role of the demonstrator is substantially different in functioning parliamentary democracies and in autocratic states like Burma, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

A Government that has no popular mandate should obviously submit itself to the demands of demonstration; a democratically elected Government shoud exercise considerally more restraint.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 8:09 pm

Kate P wrote:
seinfeld wrote:
Kate P wrote:
Austrians complaining I'm not sure how reliable the source is - but it's unlikely that the rally didn't take place.

This is a link to a German site for a people's initiative to demand a referendum - there's a demonstration planned in Berlin for 17 May in Potsdamer Platz.

Demonstrations and actual constitutional challenges are very different things.

If Governments operated according to the whims of demonstrators we'd be wearing our underwear on the outside and drinking soup with forks.

Often you'll find that when governments don't operate according to the whims of demonstrators, it's the people who end up drinking their soup with forks if they are lucky enough to have either. Burma, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Bloody Sunday... Why is it in this part of the world we assume that some demonstrations and demonstrators are more worthy than others? God forbid we allow people the right to associate and demonstrate.

'Whims' is an interesting choice of word there, seinfeld.

How many people have to voice an opinion before it's not considered a 'whim'?

I think you're right, ibis about the German request for a referendum each time. The German word for referendum translates literally as 'people's ballot.' It's hard to know which is worse, given their history: giving the people an opportunity to make a decision or denying them the opportunity.

Well, given their history with referendums, I'm definitely more comfortable that they don't use referendums.
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 8:11 pm

seinfeld wrote:
Kate P wrote:
seinfeld wrote:
Kate P wrote:
Austrians complaining I'm not sure how reliable the source is - but it's unlikely that the rally didn't take place.

This is a link to a German site for a people's initiative to demand a referendum - there's a demonstration planned in Berlin for 17 May in Potsdamer Platz.

Demonstrations and actual constitutional challenges are very different things.

If Governments operated according to the whims of demonstrators we'd be wearing our underwear on the outside and drinking soup with forks.

Often you'll find that when governments don't operate according to the whims of demonstrators, it's the people who end up drinking their soup with forks if they are lucky enough to have either. Burma, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Bloody Sunday... Why is it in this part of the world we assume that some demonstrations and demonstrators are more worthy than others? God forbid we allow people the right to associate and demonstrate.

The role of the demonstrator is substantially different in functioning parliamentary democracies and in autocratic states like Burma, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

A Government that has no popular mandate should obviously submit itself to the demands of demonstration; a democratically elected Government shoud exercise considerally more restraint.

That's a good point. Is it right for a government whose electoral mandate is in the millions to do things at the behest of tens of thousands?
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 8:14 pm

No, it's not. But the point is that the opinion of tens of thousands of people is more than a whim.

Secondly, a government with a popular mandate doesn't always get it right, nor should it assume that it will always get it right.

People demonstrate because there are not many other ways of letting the democratically-elected-once-every-five-years-government know that they don't have carte blanche.

Why do I need to explain this?
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 8:27 pm

Indeed, the way to influence formation of EU policy is not by scraping around to get people to sign petitions or hang around in the street shouting.

Put on a smart suit, study EU Comitology and hire a crack firm of lobbyists. If possible place your pet 'experts' on an Expert committee and Bobs your uncle.. .your industry will surely get its pay off.

Comitology Link
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PostSubject: Re: Its payback time - Lisbon pays for Nice   Sat May 10, 2008 8:33 pm

Kate P wrote:
No, it's not. But the point is that the opinion of tens of thousands of people is more than a whim.

Sure. In Ireland, though, most demonstrations are a few thousand. I was referring to the larger countries, where both the electoral mandate and the size of demonstrations are bigger.

Kate P wrote:
Secondly, a government with a popular mandate doesn't always get it right, nor should it assume that it will always get it right.

People demonstrate because there are not many other ways of letting the democratically-elected-once-every-five-years-government know that they don't have carte blanche.

Why do I need to explain this?

Essentially, because of the point above. Should the government back down because of the taxi-driver's protest?

In a more general sense, why do we complain that the government backs down in the face of "vested interests" (a few thousand publicans), while claiming that the government should pay attention to a few thousand demonstrators?

Both of those represent interest groups bringing pressure to bear on the government. Is it just that we agree with one, and not the other? Do demonstrations have a "public mandate" that the vintner's federation or the taxi association lacks?
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