Archive for the ‘Austerity Treaty – Referendum’ Category
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.
Paul Krugman Says No to the Austerity Treaty :
NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING ECONOMIST Paul Krugman has advised Irish voters to vote No in Thursday’s referendum on the Fiscal Compact.
“I’ve thought about it, it’s hard. I would say vote No,” he said on BBC Radio 4 this morning. Krugman dismissed the suggestion that a No vote would anger Germany and see Ireland cut off from bailout funds or from the Eurozone.
“At this point the Germans need to face the reality that this cannot work and that the Irish, who’ve been such good soldiers in this crisis, if even the Irish say no then that would actually send a helpful message,” he said.
Read More Here :
Rónán Burtenshawe Replies to Katherine Zappone :
On theJournal.ie on Monday Senator Katherine Zappone established her support for the Fiscal Treaty in an article titled, ‘I’ve always fought for those who have the least. That’s why I’m voting Yes.’ For many of us who are fans of her academic and political work it will have been a disappointing read – laced with conformism, neoliberal logic and uncritical repetition of conventional wisdom which serves the interests of the powerful. The article requires a response – particularly because of its assertion that voting Yes serves the interests of the weakest in Irish society.
More Here :
...they could do worse than read this from Slavoj Žižek on Europe and the Greeks... passed on by Wu Ming for which many thanks...
On the choice between SYRIZA amd the right...
And, as is usually the case when a real choice is on offer, the establishment is in a panic: chaos, poverty and violence will follow, they say, if the wrong choice is made.
CAAT Newspaper Advertisement:
European ATTAC Network Declares “we have to break with the neoliberal monetary order”
“Accept austerity or face chaos”. This is the message sent by European leaders – such as José Manuel Barroso, Angela Merkel, Mario Draghi – to the Irish and Greek peoples. Read the rest of this entry »
Three major trade unions with combined membership of more than 100,000 have issued a strong call to vote no in Thursday’s referendum on what they are calling the austerity treaty.
The Civil and Public Service Union (CPSU), Mandate and UNITE trade unions represent workers across the private and public sector and a wide range of industries from retail to transport and finance.
UNITE Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said:
“The Treaty is only about austerity and does not have any provisions relating to growth.”
“It has been rushed in as a panic measure. No less than ten Euro zone countries have now slipped back into recession.”
“The problem with the treaty is that it enshrines the very policies that have caused that recession to get deeper and more damaging.”
“Ireland has a chance to say No, and to pull Europe back from the brink of economic self harm it has been engaged in to disastrous effect over the past three years.”
Mandate General Secretary, John Douglas said that the Fiscal Treaty if passed will not create one job:
“On the contrary it will legally lock down Irish economic activity at its current levels, and may even shrink domestic demand further leading to mass unemployment, decades of emigration and sow the seeds for future social conflict.
“This Treaty has nothing to do with ‘good housekeeping’ or ‘managing the household budget’; it is about copper fastening into an internationally legally binding agreement, decades of austerity, social exclusion, mass long term unemployment and emigration – and a continuation of attacks on workers’ rights and the welfare system. It is not about what is good for Irish citizens, or the citizens of Europe, it is a treaty of the Right for the Right!”
CPSU General Secretary Eoin Ronayne said:
“The Treaty amounts to writing into law the failed policies of the neo liberals who got us into the mess we are in.”
“Why on earth would lower and middle income people vote to make their lives even worse than they already are”
“What the ordinary citizens of the EU need is a sustained and comprehensive growth package putting money back into their pockets so that they can spend in their local economies generating jobs and protecting existing employment”
“Nothing in this Treaty will do that and a NO vote is the only way for people to stand up and say we’ve had enough of what got us into this crisis and that it’s time for change”
Each of the three unions has been working with activists and workplace representatives to encourage debate among members and present a balance to the government messaging that there is no choice but to say yes. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Burke, writing in the Irish Left Review says
There are many reasons to vote No in the forthcoming Treaty on the austerity pact. One of them is that it is simply unworkable
More Here :
As the crisis unfolds Irish leaders Kenny and Gilmore want us to bury our heads in the sand, just like them
Gene Kerrigan shines a light on cowardly Irish Political leaders :
What happens, some wonder, when Enda Kenny is behind closed doors, with EU leaders, without his props? What happens at those meetings where the future of our children is decided?
Well, we know what happens. We’ve seen him treated in public, by Nicolas Sarkozy, as something of a fondly-regarded puppy. As Sarkozy tickled Enda’s neck in front of the cameras, and Enda giggled, is there anyone who didn’t flinch? No other national leader anywhere on the planet would dare be so casually and patronisingly handled — tickled with affection, a pleasingly responsive pet.
Across the EU, he — and we — are treated as the suppliant ones. And that is indeed the policy of this Government. Supplication — then, appeals for fairness, for a dig-out — if dat do be pleasing to ye, sir. In a ferocious world where other governments, bankers and financiers go to work in hobnailed boots, our leaders wear carpet slippers.
This is why we so studiously concern ourselves with trivia as billions are siphoned out of the country. It’s why the current referendum campaign has been conducted in bogus terms, about jobs and growth and where we’ll get the money for another bailout.
We’ve hit the iceberg, bankers load the lifeboats with billions of our euros — our leaders ask us to discuss the dessert menu.
More Here :
Meanwhile the Labour Party takes a shot at its rival Sinn Féin over a Dáil vote in 2008:
There’s a bond payment of €2.25 billion from Allied Irish Banks on Monday May 28 2012 – the Labour Party in government feeds the vultures.
On 31 May, in a national referendum, the Irish people will take a stance on the Austerity Treaty, aka the Fiscal Compact. As Ireland is the only country where the Treaty will be tested at a referendum, powerful players are pulling out the heavy artillery to prevent a ‘No’. As if aware that the Austerity Treaty has nothing good to offer, the only card up their sleeve is a high-pitched scare campaign. All kinds of threats are being used to force a Yes vote.
See a bigger version of the cartoon .
“Oppose the erosion of social rights…reject better treatment for banks over people” – Patrick Kinsella’s Article in the Irish Times
Writing in the May 24 2012 Irish Times Patrick Kinsella argues for rejection of the Austerity Treaty, finishing with this blunt warning for the Irish Labour Party in a coalition government with the ultra-conservative Fine Gael party:
On this issue, the Labour Party in Government has abandoned its traditional constituency, signing up to support the banks at the expense of equality, jobs and fair working conditions. It has abandoned the social pillar of the European Union in the interests of an illusory “stability”. I sense that its traditional constituency will abandon Labour at the next election
We recommend the full article, proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that the Fiscal Compact is a dangerous enemy to all shades of the left, including very moderate traditional social democracy.
A British New Statesman article entitled “The EU treaty is a disaster for the left” is just as compelling :
The author Owen Jones, whose “Chavs: the Demonization of the Working Class” is published by Verso says bluntly :
Consider this: as Paul Mason has written, “by enshrining in national and international law the need for balanced budgets and near-zero structural deficits, the eurozone has outlawed expansionary fiscal policy”.
Read that last bit carefully. Left-wing governments of all hues will, in effect, be banned by this treaty. If the French or the German left returns to power in the near future (and both are in a good position to do so), it will be illegal for them to respond to the global economic catastrophe with anything but austerity. An economic stimulus is forbidden – because the treaty has buried Keynesianism.
To date, Four Irish Trade Unions – MANDATE, UNITE, the TEEU (Electricians) and the Civil and Public Service Union (CPSU) have logically acted, understood the Treaty threat, and called for a NO in the referendum to be held on May 31.
Many activists know of people close to the Trade Union movement and Labour Party who know these arguments are 100 per cent true, but have not spoken their minds – they should broadcast now, reject the austerity policy of Tánaiste Éamon Gilmore and his government ministers, and join the NO Campaign.
They need look no further than Patrick Kinsella’s article :
Treaty is a social, political and economic threat
Thu, May 24, 2012
OPINION: Voting No is not a rejection of the EU – it is to oppose the erosion of social rights. It is to reject better treatment for banks over people, writes PATRICK KINSELLA
FOR NEARLY 40 years it has been pretty easy to find reasons to vote Yes to the succession of European treaties.
Like the rebel plotters in Monty Python’s Life of Brian asking “What has Rome ever done for us?”, we can answer that as well as better roads, we have more jobs, agricultural prosperity, quality education, cleaner water, and the promotion of equality and human rights, all benefits that might have seemed utopian back in the 1970s.
Yes, things are grim compared to a couple of years ago, and unemployment is at crisis levels. But total incomes, personal consumption and the number of people at work are all still higher than in 2003, which was not a bad year.
Free trade has been good to Ireland. But the European project is not just about free trade, and there are two compelling reasons to vote No to the latest treaty.
The first compelling reason is economic: the fiscal stability treaty does nothing to repair damage to our banking system, and nothing to reduce unemployment. The Government is locked in to an austerity policy that both theory and practice demonstrate to be wrong. It has been abandoned by the United States, by voters in Greece and France, and earlier this month by the voters of North Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.
The policy problem is Angela Merkel’s obsession with reducing debt. She is wrong: running a national economy is emphatically not like running a household or a business – households and businesses do not control the money supply. Governments need to borrow to invest and central banks need a stock of government bonds as a means of managing interest rates.
Obviously, excessive borrowing will lead to inflation, but excessive saving will lead to deflation – more job losses and business closures – and that is what is happening across much of Europe now.
Voting No to the fiscal treaty will not reverse current economic policy – that’s a political issue that will be resolved only after the German federal election next year. But voting Yes would make the austerity permanent, writing into national law a requirement to cut budgets or raise taxes here for as long as general government debt is more than 60 per cent of gross domestic product.
It’s no good the Government talking about a growth agenda if it means only market liberalisation and further cuts in pay. European governments need to borrow more money and invest it in worthwhile projects if unemployment is to be brought down. And large-scale, long-term borrowing to invest would be legally banned under the fiscal treaty.
The second compelling reason to vote No is purely political. The treaty upsets the historic balance that lies at the heart of the European project – the balance between labour and capital. The EEC was founded partly to prevent another war between France and Germany. But free trade, and free movement of goods, services and money were always to be limited by the protection of social rights.
Europe built on Germany’s post-war “social market economy”, which provided stability, profits, low unemployment and a welfare state. The main trade unions and most social democrats have been enthusiastic supporters of a project that promised social justice as well as prosperity; a commitment to equality as well as the right to make profits.
The fiscal treaty, by what it says and what it does not say, ends that balance. For the countries that sign it, the needs of the banks will be permanently ahead of the needs of the people. There is no social chapter here: just cut the deficit and limit government borrowing, whatever the social cost.
What kind of Ireland, what kind of Europe do we want? Competitive and flexible? Yes, but surely not at the cost of permanently low wages, poor public services, high unemployment and social insecurity. This is not a fantasy nor scaremongering, it is already under way.
Just one example from my place of work: there’s no such thing as a “job” in a university anymore. The very best we can offer new recruits is a five-year contract. Not just in the State sector but throughout the economy, on issues of job security, employment conditions and pension provision, risk is being transferred from investors and employers to employees and the unemployed.
This turns the expectation of profit as a reward for taking risk on its head, and reverses the historic consensus on which European prosperity and social cohesion has been based – and all to protect the integrity of a banking system that failed in its primary duty of prudence in lending.
The single currency scheme was flawed from the start, because the euro member states were unwilling to surrender the sovereignty needed to sustain it. Unwilling to harmonise taxes and spending policy, unwilling to borrow money as a unit, unwilling to transfer resources from one region to another in the way the US federal government does, unwilling to tax and properly regulate the financial system.
Merely limiting states’ capacity to borrow does not address these issues, and does not provide any basis for currency stability. That’s a task to be tackled by the new French president and a new German chancellor.
The Government is rigorously following the policies required by the troika of intergovernment lenders who support our current spending deficit and our bank rescue, and voting No will not change that. But the political situation in Europe is changing radically, and it is absurd to think that our partners will leave us high and dry for future loans because we reject a legal straitjacket on future policy demanded in the dying days of the Merkel regime. And don’t think the ideological rebalancing demanded by the fiscal treaty is limited to the euro zone members: the final article says “steps will be taken” to incorporate the substance of it “into the legal framework of the European Union”.
The political context for the social market economy in the 1950s and 1960s was the spectre of communism that haunted Europe. The context now includes the indignados of Spain, riots in Greece, and right-wing parties. Those of us with no great wealth other than our education worry for our children: where will they work, how will they live?
On this issue, the Labour Party in Government has abandoned its traditional constituency, signing up to support the banks at the expense of equality, jobs and fair working conditions. It has abandoned the social pillar of the European Union in the interests of an illusory “stability”. I sense that its traditional constituency will abandon Labour at the next election.
In the meantime, those of us who think that on balance the European Union has been good for Ireland, and do not want to see that balance overturned, have compelling reasons to vote No to this treaty.
Patrick Kinsella is head of the school of communications at Dublin City University and is a member of the Tasc Economists’ Network
© 2012 The Irish Times