Monday, October 5, 2009

Lisbon Passed, Democracy Damaged

Cowen and Barroso, the empire builderWhen the ruling class in the Twenty-Six Counties wants something bad enough it will do pretty much anything to get it. This is one of the main lessons to be taken out of Saturday’s result on the second Lisbon referendum.

For working people in Ireland and around Europe the result was, frankly, not a good one. On a turnout of 58 per cent of the Twenty-Six County electorate, the Lisbon Treaty was passed with a Yes vote of 67 per cent.

After ripping up the result of the first Lisbon referendum because they didn’t like the result, the Twenty-Six County government, the official ‘opposition’, IBEC, the state and corporate media, all the main churches and, shamefully, most of the trade union hierarchy spent months and million of euros spreading fear and peddling lies. Who said class was dead?

Those who run the Twenty-Six Counties in the interests of the rich removed the mask of political pluralism and gave public opinion both barrels. Even the leaders of the main universities in the Twenty-Six Counties warned students and staff that voting No would impact negatively on ERASMUS programmes. It was one of those rare moments where the vested interests of those who are really in charge stood naked for all to see.

Yet, despite the fear-mongering and the threats from the business class, 33 per cent of those who voted, 504,606 people, stood firm and voted No. On top of that figure there is the 42 per cent of the electorate who didn’t cast a vote. How many of those hundreds of thousands of working people concluded there was no point voting No to Lisbon 2 because of what happened to Lisbon 1?


Those who did vote No again, concentrated in the working class, the exploited, the neglected and the ignored, provide the potential for a radical grassroots movement for revolutionary change in Irish society. Those Irish citizens who were denied the right to vote – the people in the occupied Six Counties – provide equal potential for the building of such a movement.

Speaking on TV3 after the result was confirmed, Fianna Fáil’s Conor Lenihan feigned great offence at the suggestion that his party, Fine Gael and the Labour Party collectively represent the interests of the ruling class in the Twenty-Six Counties. In their strenuous efforts to get the Lisbon Treaty passed, however, Mr Lenihan and his ‘opponents’ may just have confirmed that fact in the public mind, once and for all.

Despite the Lisbon result, things are slowly changing in Irish society and it’s not the sort of change that, when it comes to fruition, will suit the agendas of Fianna Fáil, IBEC & Co.

Following the result, éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac an Mháistír said: “While the political establishment in the Twenty-Six Counties succeeded in getting Lisbon passed today, they only did so by undermining the very concept of democracy itself. The holding of a second referendum on a treaty that had already been rejected was a profoundly anti-democratic act which should never have happened. That 1.8 million Irish citizens living in the British-occupied Six Counties were denied a vote in both referenda only exacerbated this injustice."

“"The fact that the entire Twenty-Six County establishment, including the main ‘opposition’ parties, the bulk of the trade union leadership and the main churches were all complicit in supporting a second referendum demonstrates just how thin the veneer of democracy in this state actually is."

“"The overt role that private corporations such as Ryanair and Intel played in promoting a Yes vote marks a new and profoundly worrying departure in Irish politics. The Twenty-Six Counties is moving ever closer to a de-facto fascist corporate state, where the interests of the business and political class become indistinguishable and inseparable.”"

"On the pattern of voting, Daithí said: “The results from yesterday’s referendum have yet again demonstrated the glaring class divide that exists across the Twenty-Six Counties, with the wealthier sections of society backing a treaty which they believe will best serve their interests. Despite all the scare-mongering of the Yes side, working-class communities across the state came out in large numbers to reject the Lisbon Treaty, just as they did in June 2008 – - for this they are to be commended."

“"Working people saw in this treaty a continuance of the very economic policies that have led to mass unemployment, savage wage cuts and tax hikes. They rightly saw this referendum as an opportunity to reject the failed economic policies of the EU and Dublin government elite.”"

Daithí concluded: “ "While it is disappointing that the Lisbon Treaty has been passed, the arguments of the Yes camp will be exposed over the coming months. Voting Yes to Lisbon will not lead to jobs or recovery. Instead, it will lead to savage cut-backs, the privatisation of public services and the further erosion of Irish sovereignty and democracy. When that happens, we in éirígí will be there to challenge those who would put the interests of the few ahead of the many."

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