Archive for June 2012
Irish People Bullied into Voting Yes – An Explicit Campaign of Blackmail Waged against Potential ‘No’ Voters
A big thanks to all campaigners, in Ireland and many other parts of the world, who fought so hard.
Link to Results :
Here are some initial reactions :
Campaign Against the Austerity Treaty
Press statement – June 1 – immediate release
Irish people bullied into voting Yes
Referendum result is not a mandate for home and water taxes
Labour’s way IS Frankfurt’s way
The government and the EU have succeeded in bullying the people of Ireland into voting for a Treaty they do not want. This vote was based upon fear and the Yes majority is a hollow victory. Even amongst supporters of the Treaty there was an admission that the only grounds for supporting it were the threats of exclusion from future bailout funds. This was the only substantive argument presented by the government and the Yes campaign.
The referendum result today should not be regarded as a mandate to impose the household tax, the water tax and other austerity measures. Those who are being most affected by the austerity measures – cuts and tax hikes – have rejected this treaty in large numbers.
Labour’s way is now exposed as Frankfurt’s way: the protection of failing banks at the expense of ordinary working people. The Labour Party should take no comfort in this result. They will find themselves supporting cuts and taxes that impose the burden of the banking and economic crisis on ordinary people. The Austerity Treaty, and the austerity policies being currently implemented, will bring neither stability, recovery nor growth. Labour supporters will soon realise this.
Over the coming months the activists of the Campaign Against the Austerity Treaty will work with those who oppose the implementation of the austerity measures that are embodied in this anti-social treaty. We will continue to link up with like-minded movements across Europe in support of an alternative that prioritises full employment, social protection, peace and environmental sustainability.
An Explicit Campaign of Blackmail Waged against Potential ‘No’ Voters
The fiscal treaty was voted on in a referendum in Ireland yesterday and was approved by a margin of 60% to 40% (with a turnout of barely 50% of eligible voters).
The outcome of the referendum was largely attributable to the ‘yes’ side’s focus on Ireland’s access to the new European Stability Mechanism (ESM) – the fund to which Ireland would be expected to apply should it require a second loan from non-market sources (a first such loan – from EU, IMF and other sources – was contracted in 2010). The argument was endlessly repeated that a ‘no’ vote would deny Ireland the ability to apply to the ESM, and many people were doubtless convinced that this could be a risky proposition . Thus, the ‘yes’ vote is explained to some extent not by any widespread endorsement of the content of the treaty itself, but rather by an explicit campaign of blackmail waged against potential ‘no’ voters. As Paul Murphy, Socialist Party Member of the European Parliament put it, a ‘yes’ vote is “no endorsement of what’s in this treaty and it’s no endorsement of austerity. People are scared out there.”
Things, however, will not get better or less scary for most Irish people any time soon. In fact, they will likely get worse. A ‘breaking news’ headline in one of the country’s national newspapers this morning read: “Bad news back on agenda now vote is over”, referring to the fact that issues such as the introduction of new taxes, discussion of which was cynically deferred during the referendum campaign, will come roaring back with a vengeance. Further swingeing austerity is to be imposed for years to come, copper fastened in place by the treaty’s rules. Those who have borne the brunt of the cutbacks to date already understand this – working class communities tended to vote ‘no’ to the treaty, while the ‘yes’ vote was highest in middle- and upper-class constituencies; even one government minister conceded that the vote reflected a “class divide”.
There is no disguising that the referendum result is a disappointment. However, the fact that the ‘no’ vote was 40% is, under the circumstances, a very decent showing, especially given that the three largest political parties (only two of which are in government), all major newspapers, business groups and various civil society elites were unanimous in their calls for a ‘yes’ vote. And it is worth bearing in mind that the fear factor discussed above pushed a lot of people into the ‘yes’ camp despite their opposition to the broad thrust of current policy. Nor can those who abstained be counted as having given the current regime a ringing endorsement. In other words, almost the entire weight of establishment Ireland could barely manage to persuade 30% of the electorate to back the treaty, and a good number of those did so only through gritted teeth and at effective gunpoint. The courage of those who voted ‘no, coupled with what will inevitably be the growing anger and sense of betrayal felt by many of those those who voted ‘yes’ or who did not vote at all, provides a solid basis for developing a serious alternative agenda to, and mobilization against, the debt and austerity programme in the years to come.