Treaty of Lisbon

I would vote yes   3 votes - 50 %
I would vote no   2 votes - 33 %
-   0 votes - 0 %
Should go ahead with some fudge for Ireland   2 votes - 33 %
Should be cancelled and existing voting arrangments continued   0 votes - 0 %
Should be replaced by another attempt   3 votes - 50 %
EU should be disbanded   0 votes - 0 %
-   0 votes - 0 %
A sensible deal could be ratified by referenda in the member nations   3 votes - 50 %
No sensible deal could be ratified by referenda in the member nations   3 votes - 50 %
6 Total Votes
French vote by thunderbee (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 09:40:51 AM EST
It's not that nobody knows. They don't want to know.
Most people who voted against the "constitution" did if for simple reasons:
  • every time, we were told that "it's not the best, but this treaty is so very important that you need to accept it nevertheless." That was once too many.
  • it was not a constitution: it was a huge commercial treaty. A constitution is 10 pages long, tops. We wanted a real european constitution, not a commercial charter.
  • while improving some european mechanisms, it concentrated power into unaccountable, unelected hands. The fine details I can't recall now, but power was redistributed in a "you vote for trivial matters, we'll handle the rest without this cumbersome democratic process".
Politicians decided that people voted "no" for a whole lot of reasons that had nothing to do with the constitution, but the truth is, most people voted against the very thing they tried to pass as a constitution.

I believe a lot of people are pro-european, but very anti-"bureaucratic, undemocratic, command-and-control system" as you put it.

And I honestly don't believe that the legislations that keep on failing would improve europe citizens-wise. It'll improve bureaucratic decision-making, but not democracy.

So, I cheer at the Irish vote, because they had a chance to refuse what we no longer can vote on. If their idea of democracy is "ok, you voted against, but we are going to do it anyway 'cause you don't get it", then I certainly don't want them to get any more power.


10 pages seems pretty short by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #2 Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 10:31:43 AM EST
Assuming 250 words per page, I make the German constitution 87 pages, the French 37 pages, the Indian a massive 469 pages. The EU constitution could certainly have done with some trimming. But the US constitution is highly exceptional in being so short: constitutions are generally pretty long documents.

while improving some european mechanisms, it concentrated power into unaccountable, unelected hands. The fine details I can't recall now, but power was redistributed in a "you vote for trivial matters, we'll handle the rest without this cumbersome democratic process".
Can you be more specific about that? Do you mean the removal of national vetoes in certain areas, or something else?
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
The US constitution by ucblockhead (3.33 / 3) #3 Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 01:32:56 PM EST
Is also the one that has lasted the longest. (Ignoring the longer lived unwritten British one.)

There's lots of value to having a constitution that your average non-lawyer can read and understand, even if it does lead to century-long arguments about what "militia" means.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
I don't think it's really comparable by TheophileEscargot (3.00 / 1) #6 Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 10:20:06 PM EST
First, because it describes a republic not a democracy, the US constitution leaves most of the details of how senators, congressmen and the electorial college delegates are selected to the State constitutions, which are generally much longer.

Second, it was was written in an age without much technology, without much regulation, for a rural population, in colonies without long legacies of existing law. You wouldn't write an 18th century constitution if you were starting in the 21st.

Thirdly, as I see it the US constitution was a bit of a fudge, designed to be as vague as possible to get it accepted. As an actual working modern constitution, it has significant problems.

As I mentioned here its vagueness means that in practice, the unelected supreme court can basically legislate. It misses crucial details like the how many people should sit on the supreme court. It weirdly had nothing on whether and how states could secede. It was vague enough to allow black men to be disenfranchised. Thing like abortion rights end up being decided by the unelected supreme court based on side-issues like a woman's right of privacy with her doctor.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
That is true by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #8 Sun Jun 15, 2008 at 05:21:43 AM EST
However, given that European countries are likely to want even more independence than the original US colonies did, it seems to me a good model.

It should also be pointed out that the vagueness that allowed black men to be disenfranchised was quite deliberate.

Truth is, both the cases you complain about have more to do with deliberate misreadings of the US constitution.

This is not to say that I think a longer constitution is bad. 37 pages is reasonable. 469 is not. A nation's constitution should be simple enough for schoolchildren to understand.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Nation's constitution by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 12:05:10 AM EST
The EU is not and should never be a nation. Therefore even a vague constitution is possibly a step too far.

I liked it best as a set of trade agreements and as a tool to improve people's rights across the EU. Without an EU, women in Ireland would not have the right to equal pay for example, nor would homosexuality have been decriminalised as 'early' as it was. I think Colm Tobin has an interesting point undeveloped in that article. As the political establishment becomes unquestioningly pro-EU, the people become more anti that version. Yet, these same people continue to elect that political establishment.

[ Parent ]
I thought by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #12 Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 05:43:34 AM EST
This was an interesting idea. Every country except Ireland should leave the old EU and join a new EU with the new voting rules. Ireland would then be in the EU on its own.

I think his analysis is a bit over-complicated though.

The No vote in Ireland has exposed a glaring inefficiency in the legal structure of the EU. Simply put, the requirement of unanimity creates a giant external effect: A No vote imposes a high cost on all EU members. However for the electorate in any one country, especially a small one, it is entirely rational to vote no. They can thus punish at a low cost to themselves in one go ‘Brussels’ and their own political class. Ireland represents 1 % of the EU; 99 % of the cost of a badly functioning Union is thus borne by the other 26 member state. No political system can long survive such a misaligned incentive structure.
Basically I think it just comes down to the problem that direct democracy doesn't scale. I think Plato had 5,000 citizens as the maximum for a city-state. When you get to the 500,000,000 or so people in the EU it gets hard for any kind of sensible compromise to referedized everywhere...

[ Parent ]
Technology has nothing to do with it. by thunderbee (4.00 / 1) #10 Sun Jun 15, 2008 at 10:41:54 PM EST
The way I see it, a constitution is not a law.

The constitution is what makes it possible to elect a body that will debate and pass laws, and change laws when the need arises (because technology or population or the world changes).

Thus, a constitution is a short text, because it is not concerned with details nor with the current times. It puts forward the principles that will be used to set up the process to set up the laws.
The democratic process (if you really intend to have one, which they did not) does not change with times or technology.

It should be a text that can be read and understood, and voted upon by all, and it should safeguard basic human rights and the democratic process.

The European constitution had some of those items, with a whole lot of laws, policy choices, inter-states treaties, and was almost impossible to revise due to the voting requirements with 27 countries.

[ Parent ]
Parliament & commission by thunderbee (4.00 / 1) #9 Sun Jun 15, 2008 at 10:33:12 PM EST
From what I remember, there was a power shift from the EU Parliament to the Commission.
The Parliament (elected) got power over a few more issues (thus they could say that the new constitution was "more" democratic), but in the meantime, very important issues were handed to the Commission whose power was vastly increased, and who was answerable to no-one.

There is a very interesting website (french only, and very bad-looking, sorry).

The guy really picks the "constitution" apart, with regards to what a constitution is supposed to be and how it should enable and protect the democratic process, but not set policy.
And for every point he makes, he gives precise pointers to the text of the constitution, so that you don't have to take his word for it, but can check by yourself.
I convinced a whole lot of people using that site.

The constitution was wrong on so many levels, I'm really disgusted that they just brought it back as a treaty, and I'm really glad the Irish got a chance to say no (even thought they'll move on with it anyway by the look of things).
At least it's just called a treaty now...

[ Parent ]
Ha, the real geezers are awesome by spacejack (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 04:01:29 PM EST
So I take it you thought The Happening deserved better than the 20% it got on RottenTomatoes?

Don't know why some critics seem to have hated it by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #5 Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 10:18:02 PM EST
It seemed like a pretty well done suspense/horror movie to me. Thought it was better than "Unbreakable" and "The Village". It doesn't have an irritating cameo, it's a crisp 90 minutes not dragged out like too many movies these days.

I think Roger Ebert might explain it: it's a low-key movie without much ostentatious running around and screaming type drama.

I suspect I'll be in the minority in praising this film. It will be described as empty, uneventful, meandering. But for some, it will weave a spell. It is a parable, yes, but it is also simply the story of these people and how their lives and existence have suddenly become problematic. We depend on such a superstructure to maintain us that one or two alterations could leave us stranded and wandering through a field, if we are that lucky.

It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
RealGeezers on No Country For Old Men by Scrymarch (4.00 / 2) #7 Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 11:17:30 PM EST
"It's very easy as a writer if you make a guy psychopathic, you don't have to explain anything".


The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo