Referendums - can’t always get what you want

The EU leadership’s obsession with political and economic federation is the source of the current crisis rocking the eurozone, writes columnist Marek Magierowski.

Published on 4 November 2011 at 15:46

Things in Greece and elsewhere in the EU are far from funny, but some politicians seem never to lose their sense of humour.

“I hope that people in Greece realise that, voting in this referendum, they bear responsibility not only for their own country but for the rest of Europe as well,” said former German foreign minister and SPD leader, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The referendum was ultimately called off, which doesn’t change the fact that Steinmeier’s analysis is extremely funny. The “future of Europe” is the last thing the Greeks are preoccupied with today. Can you imagine an unemployed 25-year-old voting in favour of radical reforms because the ‘future of Europe’ demands this? Or a public servant who agrees to have his wages cut by a fifth because “Berlin expects this”?

A construction that has little to do with democracy

It would have been the same if a euro referendum were held in Germany – something that several politicians there are already demanding. Bild would certainly tell its readers whether to vote for continued subsidies for the “lazy thieves from Athens” or whether to throw the Greeks out of the eurozone.

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Threatening each other with referendums leads nowhere. Unfortunately, in this case the culprits are those EU leaders who beguiled the European public with the vision of an increasingly democratic Europe, one in which citizens would have more and more say.

Instead, they’ve created a construction that has little to do with democracy. On the one hand, they have forcibly pushed through various laws regardless of the vox populi while on the other, obsessed by the vision of a political and economic federation, they have staked the whole continent’s future on decisions taken by not very wise leaders in not very large countries.

Translated from the Polish by Marcin Wawrzyńczak

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