This weekend’s skittishly unpredictable Gazeta Wyborcza has an intriguing article on the always fascinating subject of the European Union by Judit Kiss, a Hungarian economist. The article is built around a tortuous analogy between the EU referendum and the Merchant of Venice as yet another technocrat tries to perusade us that they read literature too. Who knows? Perhaps if you prick them they even bleed?
Kiss has the answer to the question that has been keeping us all awake this last year or more, namely why France and Holland rejected the European Union referendum: the “political elites” did not ask the citizens who were allegedly to benefit from the constitution their opinions while they were drawing up the treaty.*
It was not the content but the way in which the constitution arose that caused its rejection
If the “political elites” had consulted the public the constitution would either have had a different content or the same content. If the former, Kiss’s point is unmade: it is the content that determines whether the constitution is acceptable to the majority of people. If the latter, the consultation would have been meaningless. Kiss’s article is a slightly more subtle version of the universal cry of the establishment loser: “it was public relations what won it.” One must never admit that the sheep made up their own minds about which way to vote, basing their decision on the substantive issues of the proposition. Unless of course they vote the way you want them: then they have made a mature and informed decision.
In answer to the question of why so many countries voted yes Kiss would – I am quite sure – fearlessly say it was because of the lack of consultation with the public. But then she wouldn’t get her articles published in Gazeta Wyborcza.
* Actually, the public was asked its opinion. I suspect most people did not volunteer one out of the conviction that nobody in the “political elite” would pay it a blind bit of notice. The sheep are awfully cynical these days.