Friday, May 20, 2005

5 reasons to say "Non" to the European constitution

/ constitution / unhealthy /
In the EU Observer, Susan George provides 5 reasons to say No to this European Constitution treaty:

  • This so-called "Constitution" or "Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe" (TCE) is unintelligible. No ordinary person has the time or background to understand it.
    A Constitution should be comprehensible for the people it will govern. This text completely fails the test.

  • A Constitution must be based on popular sovereignty, that is, come from the people. We have known this since the 18th century. Here this principle is forgotten. The people who draw up such a document should be elected for that purpose by the people who will be subject to its provisions.

  • Changes cannot, for all practical purposes, be made to the TCE without the double majority: first all heads of State (the European Council); then ratification by all member States (parliament vote or referendum). We are asked to sign for an "unlimited duration", as the text says.

  • The French employers Union, the European Employers union UNICE and even George Bush have declared themselves very satisfied with this Constitution. They should be: This Constitution is a neo-liberal dream. Even public services (never defined in the text) are subject to the rules of competition.

  • Normal Constitutional principals such as separation of powers and "checks and balances" are almost entirely absent and the executive branch is far too dominant.

    kkk said...

    Perfect summary!

    Doesn't leave much to be added, does it?

    These five points could make a good core for a campain! I'll work on it!! What colour should the "ribbon" be, do you think, talos?

    Now if anyone had told me 20 yrs ago that I would one day be resolutely against a European Constitution, I would really have struggled to imagine the context where this could be so.

    But that was before I came up with the following slogan, subject of a future post:

    "The unthinkable GOOD, mr. Blair, NOT the unthinkable BAD" !!!

    Anonymous said...

    I actually agree with most of this. I dislike the proposed Constitution nearly as much as you do, though perhaps not for exactly the same reasons.

    However, since a "me too" post on this blog from me would probably cause the Earth to stop rotating on its Axis, the sudden change in momentum hurling us all into the airless void of space, I'll pick a single nit.

    She's wrong on her second point. Constitutions are regularly written by non-elected bodies. It happened with the American constitution, of course; the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was composed of non-elected appointees, and just ten of the thirteen states were present and voting. But also with several European constitutions. The constitution of the Fifth French Republic was more or less dictated by DeGaulle. The current German constitution was imposed at gunpoint by the Allied occupiers; the Germans never even got to vote on it.

    So, there's abundant precedent for not having the _writing_ of a constitution be a democratic process. Precedent, and some fairly strong political/philosophical arguments too.

    Now the _ratification_ of a constitution... that's a different matter. That, IMO, should be democratic indeed.

    But that's not what she's talking about here. "The people who draw up such a document should be elected for that purpose" is by no means as obvious as she seems to think it is.

    Doug M.