The Irish “No”: Voting on Behalf of the Silenced Majority of the EU

Today the results were announced of the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, a revised version of the prior “free market” EU Constitution decisively defeated by the voters of France and the Netherlands in 2005.  Sinn Fein Poster on the Lisbon TreatyThe masters of the European Union were careful this time not to permit the peoples of Europe a chance to vote.  Ireland was the ONLY country in the EU that permitted its voters a democratic choice on the Lisbon Treaty.  All major newspapers in Ireland and the three leading political parties all supported a Yes vote.  The only party represented in the Dáil Éireann — Ireland’s parliament — to support a No vote was Sinn Fein.   And the Irish decisively voted against the treaty, by a margin of 53.4 % to 46.6%.

The reporting today on this result from all the wire services and major media has endlessly in one form or another repeated the tag that (this from Bloomberg) “the rejection means that Ireland, with a population of 4.3 million, has decided the future of a bloc of 495 million people.”  The implication that the other 99% of the people of the “bloc” were in favor of the treaty is an outrageous falsehood; it is only that they were denied the chance democratically to express their opinion.  In fact the Irish who voted No were voting not only for themselves but also on behalf of what was surely the majority of many other nations within the EU, in all cases but Ireland denied the opportunity to vote.  In recent years I have had many reasons to disagree with the leadership of Sinn Fein.  Yet today, as the heirs of a glorious tradition of resistance to imperialism, they have reason to be very proud.  Here we see an instance in practice where the tradition of anti-imperialist nationalism is the true voice of internationalism.

John Mage is an Officer and Director of the Monthly Review Foundation.

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