All to play for
The announcement in the last week of February that we were facing yet another referendum on Europe struck fear into the hearts of many of us.
Even news junkies are taking Franc’s DIY Weddings over The Frontline and MTV Cribs over Morning Ireland, and that’s perfectly understandable.
It seems to be the same old wheeze yet again, and unfortunately this time the subject matter is something that would only excite the most die-hard accountant (sorry, accountants).
In our four page special on the Fiscal Treaty this week we have attempted to make it very clear just what is, and what isn’t, included in the Treaty. We have given both sides a platform to air their views.
We attempted to get two local TDs to write these pieces for us through their party press offices but unfortunately the most prominent party on the No side was unable to provide this. Thanks to Libertas for stepping in. We also conducted a small straw poll of Corkonians, which found 30 per cent in favour, 30 per cent against and 40 per cent undecided or not voting.
What’s clear from all of this is that very few of us have decided what to do in this case.
And part of the reason for that is that, as I’ve said here before, absolutely nobody knows what is going to happen, either way.
I’ve lost count of the number of summits, leaders’ meetings and press conferences where various European leaders, including our own, have said the crisis is now solved, the markets have been appeased, and it will all be fine.
Each time this happens there is calm, for a short period, and Greece, Spain, Portugal – or Ireland - has a wobble, setting the whole thing back on the rickety rollercoaster that is the badly-built Euro project.
Once or twice this wobble has involved a different country, causing serious panic. Italy, for example, is currently being run by a government made up of unelected officials, who are busily trying to keep the country on track after the years of profligacy of Silvio Berlusconi. Italy is too big to fail, and if the lack of a truly democratic government is the cost of keeping Italy afloat, then the EU is prepared to back it.
We still, at least, have politicians we elected to parliament to represent us. They may not have much leeway in what they can do, but they are accountable - to some degree.
And we have a choice on this Treaty. We have the option to reject it, should we so choose.
It’s not much of a choice. The arguments for Yes and No both involve predictions based on constantly changing political and economic factors. Either way, the future of the Eurozone - and, I would suggest, the European Union - is not assured.
The best any of us can do is read the Treaty, and read the arguments pro and con. None of us has a crystal ball, but all we can do is vote on the information that is available to us right now.