A simple question to Irish treaty voters – do you trust the EU to fix this crisis?
The Irish vote on the European Fiscal Treaty is a strange beast. The vote itself, unlike past European referendums in Ireland, only impacts the participation of Ireland in the scheme, rather than the existence of the entire enterprise. In addition, the mechanisms employed by the scheme do little to fix the problems that they are supposed to address. Finally, the entire European picture has, not unexpectedly, moved a great deal from the time it was created.
What we can say for certain is that no matter how the Irish vote, more austerity is going to arrive. We can also say that a yes vote will restrict Irish financial sovereignty in the future and narrow our choices. We are not even certain that the loan funds that Ireland will need access to in 2014 will even be available when we get there – the ever widening debt crisis will see to that.
So, how should the average, non-technocratic, punter view the choice in front of them on May 31st?
From the outside looking in, I believe this can be expressed as a matter of trust. Do you believe that the people who have brought us this far can fix this Euro crisis? Deeper than that, do you believe that they can do this with the long-run best interests of the Irish people at heart?
Let’s look at their track record. The EU and ECB leadership have stumbled from summit to summit and each time have promised that “this time we have really fixed it!”. Each time it is clear, at the time, that they have not. Each time, a few days or weeks later, Mr Market teaches them that they have not, as a fresh debt-related crisis pops up, or a set of economic data shows that the diagnosis is wrong and that the medicine is therefore counterproductive.
The Irish government (both elected and permanent) have shown an unforgivable lack of courage and nous in getting the best deal for Ireland. On May 28th they will hand over another $3bn of Irish people’s money to a bunch of bond speculators and banks who made poor decisions and are not being made to deal with the consequences. They will not even tell the Irish people who these recipients are.
So, the answer has to be “no, these people don’t have a track record of being right on the facts or right on the solutions.”
You may ask “what is the alternative?” Part of the problem here is that there is no vehicle for the Irish to start out on a different path until their next general election, some years hence.
On balance a NO vote is the only principled way to stand up for Irish interests. The treaty is bad governance and economics, and the people in charge, both in Ireland and at the European level, are making the worst of an already terrible situation.
Send them a message that you won’t stand for the continued incompetence – you may even be able to force the bums out of office and vote for real change in a new election.