Andreas C Chrysafis
When democracy functions well in a civilized society… and where the people respect the rights and opinion of others, it can never go wrong! This refers to the mature British democracy where the government has offered British citizens the right to a historic Referendum on 23 of June. On that day, the people will decide what’s in the best interest of Britain and whether to remain “IN” or get “OUT” of the EU!
Referenda play an integral part of a democracy and help to ensure that important constitutional and sovereignty decisions are not left to a cabal of temporary politicians.
Respectfully, the British PM has kept his election promise and done the honorable thing to name the day of a Referendum. One hopes that Mr. Cameron accepts a Brexit decision without a second Referendum.
Irrespective of the MP’s personal feelings about Referenda, negotiating EU reforms and concessions for Britain were not only sound political moves but were also cleverly targeted to boost the PM’s ratings for home consumption on two crucial areas: Political leverage in support of Britain to remain in the EU, but also use the Brexit-threat to blackmail the EU for concessions; a double whammy!
Politically and economically, a Brexit could turn out to be quite disastrous for Brussels – a country it could ill-afford to lose. Britain being a strong country itself could withstand a Brexit and after the initial shock in the markets, by June 2018 it would be as strong as ever before. It would then become a player in world markets and without EU trade restraints and strangleholds.
In the end, Britain would regain control over its affairs and sovereignty and that cannot be a bad thing. One has to recognize that a country that is forced to pay taxes to a foreign power (like the EU institution) and is restraint to make its own laws and overruled by a foreign Judiciary, it is not a country but a province.
On his return from Brussels a euphoric PM announced that he had successfully secured a number of EU concessions and important enough to empower his campaign for Britain to remain “IN”. His clever political blackmailing tactic using the fear-card dilemma did wonders for his status as a leader. If Brussels did not agree, a weak PM would be faced with an uphill battle to convince the British electorate and a Brexit could trigger a domino effect on other EU states.
Fearing the outcome of a Brexit, the EU Commission could not take such a gamble and became imperative for Britain to remain an integral part of the “EU happy family” and so gave-in to Mr. Cameron’s demands at the disappointment of other EU member-states.
Compare the appalling way the Commission and ECB treated Greece and Cyprus one recognizes that the EU has now become a two tier unelected institution that holds the destiny of 508 million people.
A Grexit from Euro did not matter so much to EU and if it was not for the 450-Billion-debts Greece owed to European banks, the Commission was prepared to dump Greece, but not its economic colonization – a debt so vast it would be impossible to repay for the next two hundred years! In fact Germany recently (2010) repaid its 16 billion marks war debt (50%-reduced) of its 1953 London Agreement.
Brexit however poses a serious dilemma for the EU institution; a dilemma that its own existence may depend on! The fear of Brexit may well destabilize the cozy EU bureaucracy to shaken up this private club and unless it makes radical changes to become more accountable to the electorate it runs the risk of social discontent and possibly break up.
Most importantly, it’s in desperate need to introduce sweeping reforms and start behaving more democratically and with transparency in its decision-making process. Only time will tell if the EU dinosaur will actually dare to make changes to its failed policies!
The Schengen Accord today is one of those failed policies in disarray and a shambles. The Syrian refugee crises have exposed its ineffectiveness and reluctance to adopt meaningful policies. As a result of that, member states unilaterally are putting up razor-sharp barriers to protect their borders against the influx of Muslim refugees.
Meanwhile, its wishy-washy “foreign policy” on Russia, Ukraine and its continued staunch support of Turkey, has exposed its inability to deal effectively with world-issues. The fact that the Commission is currently negotiating Turkey’s EU membership – a country that occupies militarily another EU member state – tells plenty on how pathetic EU “foreign policy” has become.
Actually the EU institution is not working! Instead, it has transmuted into a bloated bureaucratic nightmare isolated from the people it’s supposed to serve. This is in direct contrast to the original idea of a Common Market as envisioned by Jean Omer Marie Gabriel Monnet, its patron saint.
A Brexit could actually set the trend for its own demise. Mr. Cameron’s ability to convince the British people to remain in the EU now hangs on the ballot of the British electorate; on June 23, they will tell the government what to do and not the other way around!
The final decision now rests on the two opposing camps debating the issue publicly and then letting the people decide. A well-informed citizen would ultimately make a well-informed decision! This is what direct democracy and transparency is all about – access to freedom of information without restrictions.
What is most encouraging for democracy, a number of Mr. Cameron’s own cabinet minsters publicly declared their stand to get “OUT” of the EU without the fear of political repercussions by the Party hierarchy – that’s political maturity.
The people of Cyprus today are share a similar scenario but are not so fortunate and face a worse dilemma; a dilemma that would see the break up of the country. The government has promised the electorate a Referendum to decide if the nation is to remain a Republic or be partitioned under a proposed Bi-Zonal, Bi-Communal Federation (BBF). A serious matter indeed!
However, the political elite in Cyprus operates in exactly the opposite way to democratic principles but one of elected dictatorship! In fact, the current President and his Party have not kept one single election-promise made to the electorate. They are getting away with such political shenanigans because citizens refuse to hold them accountable – that’s political immaturity!
Today, the nation is a constitutional quandary of biblical proportions. Citizens are kept in the dark about the ongoing BBF negotiations; negotiations that aim to partition the island! If the current pro-EU government gets its own way, a Referendum on BBF may also become another broken promise of the past.
It is prudent to take an interest in the Brexit Referendum debate and learn from it not to handover sovereignty decisions to a group of temporary politicians. A Referendum is none other than a People’s Veto against ill-conceived government policies that threaten the national interest of the nation; that, solely belongs to the people!
In the next four months both countries will be facing an uncertain future and like the Brexit question, a Cyprexit question may not be a bad thing either…
Andreas C Chrysafis
February 24, 2016