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Helian:

When was the last time the home of the brave, land of the free, nation of the blessed, State of God last held a referendum on a national issue?

The French vs. the German way to vote.

The EU Constitution was refused in France since nobody except Chirac seemed to understand this voluminous garbage. Come to think of it, that is perhaps what Chirac wanted but the people were not dumb enough to buy into it.

Schroeder knew that too but he used a different approach which worked better. He told the Germans simply, "you are too dumb to read it and that is why your leaders must decide this for you".

In the U. S., either one would have been fired out of office for even suggesting it.

@ unknown (for Helian)

A danger of a representative democracy.

Kind of OT -- when was the last time the US Congress has declared war? If my history is correct, it was 8 December 1941.

I'm not too terribly hip on how they decide going to war anymore, either. Just ask Clinton. He deployed US troops overseas 44 times during his two terms.

Daldianus, what is so "complex and abstract" about it? The French could give over their sovereignty to a bunch of undemocratic fat-cat Socialist elitists in Belgium, or they could keep it in their own hands. Pretty damn simple concept.

This condescending attitude you share with the Euro Socialist elite is offensive to all free men. Stop drinking the coolaid, put down the Socialist Party handbook, and extract your head from your posterior. The French people own their own sovereignty. Even their own elected government should not be allowed to give away what rightfully belongs to the French citizenry without their explicit consent.

Anon,

"When was the last time the home of the brave, land of the free, nation of the blessed, State of God last held a referendum on a national issue?"

If the American government ever decides it wants to abdicate my sovereignty on my behalf, they'll either have a referendum or a bloody as hell popular uprising that would make the French Revolution look like an act of amnesty.

I'm sending Brussels the boardgame 'Risk' in which Europe is devided into geographic quadrants. Methinks this a more realistic "roadmap" to "final status" talks on European integration.

Hells bells, why not start with a Czech-Slovak union, a southern Slav union, a United States of Scandinavia. How is that experiment known as Belgium working out? Congradulations Europe the Ukraine stayed in one piece (for now).

Take heart though. Once apon a time some Europeans (English, Welsh, Scots, Irish, Dutch, German, French etc..) did create a successful union with a constitution. The USA. So it can be done if you've got the right people and mindset.

Anon,

Actually we do every 4 years.

We call it an election. This is a process where each voter can vote for someone we call president. I realize other than in france this is a strange concept to most in europe.

@JFM

"If you want to sing the Marseillaise and wave the tricolor I recommend you do it while watching the scene of the Marseillaise in "Casablanca" who is easily the most moving one ever sung (yes, the best Marseillaise is in american movie). If you don't speak french I recommend you first get a translation at www.marseillaise.org: the scene is much better when you understand the defiant words of Marseillaise and how people singing it throw it not only to the Germans but to their own 1940 failure."

You're right, it's a great scene. I especially like the part at the end where the hooker who has been selling herself to the Nazis defiantly shouts, "Viva la Liberte! Viva la Democratie!" with tears running down her eyes. Reminds me a little bit of the recent election.


randlose,

The criticism of socialism is about why it is a failed system. How over time it will not work on the scale now seen in Europe. This is the “European model”.

Of course if the Europeans believe this is possible, then I surely think they should continue, as it is there right as democratic nations to determine what is best for themselves.

Equally, it would be foolish to dismiss those who believe this model will fail because they disagree or have a different view of the future.

There is always much to be gained in the exchange of both viewpoints and ideas.

Carter, Reagan, Clinton were not aristocrats. They were anything but. Having risen to be POTUS, they did gain in statue.

Are you now telling me that Gerhard and Joschka are aristocrats? If that is true, the meaning of aristocrat has been devalued.

Joe, a election means to vote for a person or a party whereas a referendum/ plebiscite means to decide a question. By the way:
1. Most countries in Eastern Europe have presidential or semi-presidential systems.
2. Usually, democratic parliamentary systems (like Great Britain, the Netherlands or Germany) are regarded no less democratic than democratic presidential systems (like the US). So what's your point?

one without a name,

Two points, candiates for POTUS have positions. Those are known to the voters on a wide range of issues. So, at least in the US, voters cast their vote for the person who they feel best shares their view of where the direction of the nation should be going.

The POTUS is the only office directly elected by the all the people.

It is not uncommon in our history to have Congress controlled by one party and the Office of the President to be controlled by a different party.

I was under the impression in such nations as Germany and the UK, the party or parties who won control of the government selected the national leader. It was not by direct election by the people. I thought this was how John Major became PM in the UK.

By your comment it would seem that I was wrong on this.

one with no name,

Yes I am aware of that... referendum/ plebiscite vs voting for a candidate.

But for those who failure to understand the US is a Republic.

> The POTUS is the only office directly elected by the all the people.

Yes, except that it is not elected directly by the people :-)

Very good Joe

A referendum every four years. Of course. Are you really this astonishingly stupid?

The US:

A Democracy where a President who did not win the popular vote gets to be President anyways.

@Norman: You are right, your first sentence was ripped out of context. But I think it just does not match the rest of your statements. A referendum is not democratic by definition. It can be a mean of democracy, but mostly isn't. Of course this depends on the definition of "democratic". Which for me means the people expressing their own will, matching their own problems and wishes and not having people aggressivly motivated to hate all politics and everything recently done by the gouvernment.

"Democratic" referenda seem to work with smaller groups of people (ancient Greece, modern Switzerland), but not in the world of the mass media (US, Europe). So maybe it is elitist hybris like others here said, but having a referendum about decisions like the EU constitution is unresponsible considering the simple decision making process the populist politics and mass media cultivates. The interesting question then is what is more evil: using respresentative democracy and giving lobbyists the power to direct politics or having direct democracy and letting populistic politicians win control over the votings. The funny thing learned from the German history: both lunatic populists and ruthless lobbyists work together the best.

one with no name,

part of our constitution. small states vs big states. Part of being a republic.

Please take note.

Thanks

@JFM

"But in France the enlightenment philosophers (Voltaire, Diderot and al) advocated for the closure of the free schools who had proliferated in the last years of the monarchy and tghe interdiction of providing instruction to the people because, you see "instruction is bad for the people"."

Your quote doesn't ring a bell in my reading of either Voltaire or Diderot. Since you included the quote marks, I assume you have a reference. What is it?

It's true that the U.S. President is chosen by the electoral college and can win with a majority of the electoral vote even if he or she is defeated in the popular vote. Personally, I'd like to see the electoral college abolished. But it can be defended on the grounds that it responds to the fear of small states that otherwise they would be overwhelmed. (For that matter, E.U. institutions also do not give fully proportional weight to the largest countries.)

Moreover, many, perhaps all, electoral systems can produce anomalies. For example, the French system produced a run-off between Chirac and a totally non-viable extremist candidate, eliminating the center-left candidate who might have been able to beat Chirac.

In any case, the electoral college is at least a way of aggregating votes (at the regional level). This raises the following question: which political system is actually more representative--the indirectly elected U.S. President, who governs in tandem with a directly elected Congress; or the unelected European Commission, whose legislature is, to put it mildly, not a very effective check on its power?

I have found all of your comments to be both interesting and revealing. They say a lot about the various viewpoints within Europe and within Germany.

It is difficult for many Americans to understand why any nation would want to cede its sovereignty to what amounts to an unaccountable bureaucratic organization. To do this seems to be more than natural for many Germans and is in fact desired.

There can be as much discussion about direct democracy and a republic as one would like. I see some have wandered off into that discussion about how the constitution of the US was ratified. Most of this discussion has been wrong but I would hope without intent but a lack of understanding of history of the US.

One of the aspects of the US Constitution was how it was to be ratified. The Federal Convention, which had drafted the Constitution between May and September 1787, had no authority to impose it on the American people. Article VII of the Constitution and resolutions adopted by the convention on September 17, 1787, detailed a four-stage ratification process: (1) submission of the Constitution to the Confederation Congress, (2) transmission of the Constitution by Congress to the state legislatures, (3) election of delegates to conventions in each state to consider the Constitution, and (4) ratification by the conventions of at least nine of the thirteen states.

Of course, most Americans even have difficulty understanding how this document could be called a constitution. We can only compare it to our own and it makes little sense to us. Again we use the same words but they have different meanings. There also seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding about the fact that the US is a Republic.

What I think a lot of people are overlooking is there was a real debate in france about the direction of Europe. And yes, each voter in france got a copy of the EU constitution. This was part of the campaign to get the french to approve the constitution.

This is the first real debate in france on the direction of Europe in some time. It was a debate in which individuals got to participate and not just their elites. It is a debate, which has not taken place in Germany or for that matter in any other nation that I am aware of.

The Dutch will soon vote. They too will probably reject this constitution. Tonight on PBS I listened to a roundtable about the vote in france and the pending vote in The Netherlands. Two of the issues driving the “no” vote in The Netherlands is the lingering feeling they got screwed with the euro conversion and the fear that large nations will have more say about how they will live their lives than the Dutch do themselves. One could hear some of this coming also from the french. A third issue is anger about the stability pact. How the small nations had to play by the rules but when france and Germany got into trouble the rules were waived or just ignored.

What has been interesting to someone who does not have a dog in this fight is how those who oppose the constitution interrupt what it means. In france, it was a fear of capitalism. In the UK, it is a fear of socialism.

What this should say to all is this document is much to complex. It needs to be clear so every man and woman in Europe understand what it says and what it means.

But at the end of the day, there is still a EU and it will continue to function much as it has in the past. This is not the end but only a course correction.


50 Million Frenchmen are wrong again. But then it wouldn't matter which way they voted on the EU "constitution!" It was a loser either way.

A no vote, lets things stay the same. A yes vote would likely have brought some strength to the French economy but at the expense of sovreignty!

As Chirac runs for cover (isn't there an indictment hanging over his head when he leaves office) and Schroeder backpeddles....both Germany and France will remain the sick men of Europe. Burdened by high unemployment.

Perhaps Merkel can reverse the German slide. At the moment I don't see much hope for France.

What is interesting is there are two very different visions for Europe's future. One french German and the other the UK and the Eastern European nations.

How this will play out and how each nation adjusts going forward should be of interest to everyone, even if you are not European as these two visions repersent competling ideas.

Will france and Germany be able to control the global market or will the global market control them? Can they without change to the European "model" be able to save their respective welfare states?

These are just two of the many questions facing not only Germany and france but all of the EU.

It would appear that both in france and in Germany a large percentage of the people have rejected the current reforms started by their current governments. Does this mean reforms are dead?

Time will tell what course correction the french vote actually means for the EU and for the individual nations.

As bad as many are trying to make the french vote sound as it pretains to the future, I believe it presents an opportunity for Europe to address some of the most basic questions it faces.

The basic questions France and Germany face: Will we continue with our social economic system or shall we embrace free-market capitalism?

Far to many grasshoppers and not enough ants!

@ Helian

I have seen your previous holier than thou posts. Now, will you please answer the question: How many referenda has the US seen?

@ everyone:

I really don't get why the people are cheering the French. It seems to be a primitive case of schadenfreude at the efforts of the EU. The thing is, the Constitution would have made France more of a free-market enviornment, and brought numerous capitalistic reforms to the EU. Why the posters here would oppose something like this is beyond me.

@no Name

The thing is, the Constitution would have made France more of a free-market enviornment, and brought numerous capitalistic reforms to the EU. Why the posters here would oppose something like this is beyond me.

Not necessarily : This Week's Economist

What is needed instead is a treaty that acknowledges the central popular concern: that an EU that is increasingly remote is also a threat to the diversity of Europe's nations and thus to national identity. Admittedly the draft constitution does leave plenty of scope for national variation; the French could nationalise (although not subsidise) their banks, if they were foolish enough to want to do so; the British could still privatise their hospitals. But the central thrust of the document is towards more centralisation.

I simply think that they rejected it because:

* it was a direct referendum, not parliment
* it is 300 pages long, too confusing
* the gains were not obvious

Listen. I'm a big supporter of the EU, it has brought stability, growth and freedom to Europe. Many other non-EU countries want to join as well, so the more the merrier.

But what does a constitution provide that the already successfull mostly EU Economic zone doesn't?

The only thing that I can think of that the EU needs to solve is the issue of retirements and contributer plans consistant across europe...

@?

"I have seen your previous holier than thou posts. Now, will you please answer the question: How many referenda has the US seen?"

Walking around with a chip on our shoulder are we, Anon, hmmmmm? Kindly tell me how this is in any way relevant to anything I've posted on this thread? Where exactly is it that I have shamefully engaged in cheerleading for the brand of democracy practiced in the US, or held it up as a paragon to the rest of the world?

But on to your question, since you insist on an answer. Why, exactly, do you think there would be frequent national referenda in a federal form of government which reserves major lawmaking power to the states? We have referenda and to spare in this country every year, but they are typically held at the state and local level, because they relate to state and local law.

no name,

Given the US is as large as the EU, do you want that at the state level which given our form of government is the most appropriate way to answer your question.

Of course, given that the US Constitution has been ratified, am not sure just what your question is about.

The US unlike the EU has a constitution. We have a real constitution both in name and in actuality.

No European Demos, therefore no european democracy.

Free trade accross the nations of Europe, scrap the CAP, no funding for the EU politburo, laws made by countries.

Next stop on the 'non' train: Den Haag.---

Via Instapundit:

Unlike France's referendum, which was binding on the government, the Dutch vote is advisory. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's governing party said Monday it will accept a "no" verdict only if turnout reaches at least 30 percent and if 55 percent of those who vote reject the charter.

---

--they are actually doing something good for the world: There is the French Revolution, the French help for America during the War of Independence,---

France had their Revolution and all they got was the Reign of Terror.

And who knew Louis was such a lover of democracy?? Of course, deciding whether or not to invade England whilst the Lobsterbacks were across the pond.....

--But all other eurpean countries and the US normaly don´t use referendums.--

Of course we do, Tobias.

Read some local papers after an election. There's referenda there. It's just not at a national level, it's the local/state level.

And we have a referendum every 2 years, it's called voting. We don't like it, we throw the bums out.

The House of Representatives must stand for election every 2 years, 1/3 of the Senate every 6.

Our states are more autonomous than states in Europe.

Look at the difference between CA and Kansas. FLA and PA.

--The US:

A Democracy where a President who did not win the popular vote gets to be President anyways.---

The Founding Fathers were brilliant. Otherwise the elite would rule the peasants.

They were ruled by the elite and decided to try something different.

-- Personally, I'd like to see the electoral college abolished. ---

Absolutely not. I refuse to be ruled by CA and the NE.

--Kind of OT -- when was the last time the US Congress has declared war? If my history is correct, it was 8 December 1941.--

-- In a major victory for the White House, the Senate early Friday voted 77-23 to authorize President Bush to attack Iraq if Saddam Hussein refuses to give up weapons of mass destruction as required by U.N. resolutions.

--

Google is your friend.

Seems like it finally dawned on the French that their elites and the media lapdogs who serve up their message every day have been lying to them. Could the Germans be far behind? Spiegel's hatemonger-in-chief Marc Pitzke served up another classic example of how to lie by omission today. According to Pitzke:

"Schließlich stagniert das US-Durchschnittseinkommen seit Jahren bei mageren 43.000 Dollar pro Haushalt, derweil die Reichen immer reicher werden - und die Armen immer ärmer. Die aktuellsten Daten der Volkszählungsbehörde in Washington besagen, dass die US-Armutsquote zuletzt von 12,1 (2002) auf 12,5 Prozent (2003) angestiegen ist. 7,6 Millionen amerikanische Familien leben in Armut. Mit anderen Worten: Auf jeden US-Millionärshaushalt kommt ein Haushalt in Not."

As usual in Pitzke's screeds, there's no mention of the fact that anyone disputes the black picture he paints of the US economy, or that there are two sides to this story. However, it doesn't take much googling to find the information that "responsible journalist" Pitzke has decided the German people don't "need to know." We find, for example, that the US poverty figures are almost certain to show an improvement for 2004 when those figures are released in August or September. (Think Pitzke and Spiegel will feature the statistics prominently if they do? Guess again!) We also note that the current statistics are also showing the typical lag in poverty rates following recessions, but the increases have been much less severe than in earlier recessions. And the list of similar "irrelevant information" that Pitzke "forgets to mention" goes on and on.

Pitzke, of course, has concluded, as usual, that such information is "irrelevant" to a "proper" understanding of what's going on in the US. After all, to be "well informed" Germans only need to know half the story - the negative half, of course.

People who point these things out can usually expect to be treated with heart rending lectures from the "moral high ground." In this case, for example, critics of the one-sided coverage would be "insensitive to poverty." Such dishonest and disingenuous posturing misses the point, of course, which is that there are, in this case as in many others, two sides to the story, and the German people are only being "informed" about one side. Hate peddlars like Pitzke know they can only keep up the spin as long as they monopolize the media, which explains their allergic reaction to blogs like Medienkritik.

Actually this is nothing more than a defense of the European "model".

It very well could be the initial groundwork for the some nations in Europe to develop a closed command market economy.

History says those end in failure. For the shake of those who might have to live under such an economic system, let us all hope that the elites have a way to make this work.

Sandy

Excellent. The Senate voting on an issue is NOT a referendum.

A dictionary is your friend.

no name

LOL, yes we call that democracy.

Too bad the euro commission does not allow that.

BTW who is your repersentative to the commission?

@ Sandy
I also agree that the system is correct and must remain
On the referendum issue: We have a national referendum in situations like constitutional amendments.( Haven't had one of those for a while)
All states, being sovereign, have referendums all the time. They range from Taxes to Anti-smoking issues to (Florida) having large enough cages for chickens and pigs, etc.
It is very hard for the average European to come to grips with the sovereignty issue of individual states. Since most of those issues are controlled at the local level, we don't have too many on the national level to consider.

The reason the US constitution could be so brief is the clause that it was intended that "powers not enumerated" belong to the States. State governments are very powerful in the US. Our US constitution was handwritten on three pages and then we added the 1st ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. We have a short document because the national government is restricted to governing only where it makes sense to pass "national" laws which primarly determine how citizens are to be treated by both the national government and the state government. Almost all aspects of daily life for the ordinary citizens is determined by the laws of the state in which he/she lives.

All those who think our constitution can be improved upon should realize that when written it was an experiment in freedom and choice. The experiment worked very well and has served it's citizens in good stead for 218 years. It has perserved our liberties and our national heritage as an independent nation of individuals who need little government control over their lives in order to prosper and "pursue happiness".

From the Christian Science Monitor:

"In 2001, Uzbekistan was an essential staging ground for the war that toppled the Taliban regime in
Afghanistan. But today it matters more as an example of US hypocrisy about human rights. It seems that a Soviet-style police state can brutalize its own people with impunity as long as it has good relations with the
Pentagon."


Sounds about right. Or as long as your name isnt Saddam.

Seems the topic of the french vote is not longer on this thread...

Randlose,

If currency was backed properly i.e not fiat and states couldn't borrow against forcing it's serfs to work then we wouldn't have to worry about interest rate changes.

The FDA should be scrapped and left up to patients to decide what their best treatment should be.

You cannot even see that it shouldn't be the government making those decisions for you. Like in the Matrix you cannot even see you are a slave.


As Americans, I think we are tempermentally attracted to epic scenes where the people say Piss Off to their high & mighty masters, so I cheered the NON too.
But on sober reflection, I'm also afraid where this may lead. Heaven forbid that Europe ever take it into its head that their natural pals are the Islamic zombies headed their way. Why, as it is they're practically bedfellows in a total dislike of the USA and free-market enterprise. Big thinkers among them might well toy with the idea of a worldscene dominated by European brains and Islamic numbers. Recreating the grandeur of their colonical empires inside their own countries. They'd do well to consider whether this time it is they who would be the natives.
Still, let's enjoy this moment where our dear, dear, friends Jacques & Gerhard are squirming.

There is only one reason for you to be happy about the result of the referendum: "Schadenfreude". If you would take a closer look, you could see that this referendum wasn't only a slap into Chiracs face, but also into yours.

Some quotes of Philip H. Gordon, Director of the Brookings Institution:

"American glee at the sight of Chirac with mud on his face is understandable; he was, after all, the leading opponent of the Iraq war and has long championed a Europe capable of serving as a counterweight to U.S. power. But Americans should hold their applause, which they may soon come to regret. That's because the eclectic group of angry French leftists, populists, nationalists, and nostalgics who opposed Chirac and the constitution had very different—in fact, precisely opposite—reasons for doing so than the Americans who cheered them on. In other words, if you didn't like French policies before Sunday, you're going to like them even less now."

"It should be noted from the start that the major reason for recent American anger at Chirac—his opposition to the Iraq war—had absolutely nothing to do with his defeat. (If anything that remains one of his few redeeming qualities in the eyes of many French.)"

"Far from a statement about Chirac's foreign policies, the main message delivered by voters on Sunday was about the economy. And it was certainly not, as many Americans would have liked, that the French are fed up with excessive regulation, protectionism, and high taxes. Rather, the French no camp seemed to be saying it wanted more protection and regulation, not less."

"Sunday's vote is a huge setback to the prospect of the EU aiding the spread of democracy, prosperity, and stability to the east[ern European Countries]."

http://www.brookings.edu/views/op-ed/gordon/20050601.htm

Karsten,

I would hope Americans have gotten over the idea that there is going to be any real constructive help from either france or Germany. This should have been clear to them in 2003, not withstanding the comments Kerry made.

The vote on the EU constitution had little or nothing to do with this.

Karsten,

I would hope Americans have gotten over the idea that there is going to be any real constructive help from either france or Germany. This should have been clear to them in 2003, not withstanding the comments Kerry made.

The vote on the EU constitution had little or nothing to do with this.

@ Sandy

From Oct 02, article by US Rep. Ron Paul

http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul57.html

You are right, Google is my friend.

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