The Irish have convincingly voted NO to the Lisbon Treaty. Outside Dublin Castle a vast crowd is cheering. White-faced Eurocrats cannot believe what they are hearing and seeing.
The Lisbon Treaty was supposed to mark the moment when the United States of Europe irrevocably became a political and juridical entity, with the character of an empire. In earlier stages of the empire-building process, the French and the Dutch voted NO in referendums, but the European Union and national governments chose to ignore those votes, pressing ahead as though public opinion did not exist. The 27 heads of states in Europe all signed up to the treaty in draft, and all are in the process of ratifying it, simply bulldozing it through by means of presidential decree or parliamentary measures without consulting their populations. The absence of democratic consent would have been delightfully familiar to Stalin.
All except the Irish, that is. Their constitution alone specified a referendum. As usual, the elite, big business, the media, favoured a YES vote, and took it for granted. But the Irish people did not want to lose their constitution or their sovereignty. If other countries in the EU were allowed a similar vote, they too would reject the Lisbon Treaty. In a very real sense, the Irish have spoken for the majority of Europeans.
The Irish voted NO once before on an earlier treaty, and in a moment of sheer insolence were obliged to vote again to give a YES. The mournful EU President, José Manuel Barroso of Portugal, dropped a hint that some trick of the same sort will have to happen now. The EU leaders are due to meet next week in Brussels to analyse the Irish NO, and it will be richly comic to watch them squirming. A prediction: They will find in the small print some way to avoid taking NO for an answer, no matter how undemocratic they are seen to be.
And yet these are politicians who do not hesitate to deplore Mugabe for disregarding voting and re-running it to obtain pre-determined results.