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Thursday, 7 April 2016

EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (2): a YES for direct democracy

My blog of 4 January 2016, 4 April 2016 and 5 April 2016 were about the Dutch consultative referendum of 6 April 2016 on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. The preliminary results are as follows: turnout 32.2%, against 61.1%, and in favour 38.1% and void 0.8%. The turnout exceeds the threshold of 30% and thus this consultative referendum is legally valid.

I sincerely doubt that this Dutch "NO" will cause much trouble to an EU treaty which has already been provisionally effective since 1 November 2014 (Titles 3, 5-7) and 1 January 2016 (Title 4). This clear "NO" may cause some embarrassment at the Dutch government and it should. The Dutch government did not do much in favour of this treaty even while they had already approved it.

This Dutch "NO" will be a major boost to direct democracy in all European countries. The Dutch "NO" may even affect the outcome of the UK's 2016 EU withdrawal referendum as direct democracy is no longer just an idea. Wikipedia: "Direct democracy (also known as pure democracy) is a form of democracy in which people decide (e.g. vote on, form consensus on) policy initiatives directly. This differs from the 'majority' of modern Western-style democracies, which are representative democracies".

Wikipedia already notices that both systems differ. Hence, a system of direct democracy does not really fit within a representative democracy. The latter is all about difficult compromises between various political interests while the first one is a simple "Yes" or "No" to legislative or policy proposals. I expect that this Dutch consultative referendum will result in many more referendum requests and will erode the importance of a representative democracy.

A British exit (Brexit) from the European Union will boost the demand for similar proposals elsewhere (eg, Catalonia, Flanders, Northern Ireland, Scotland). This fragmentation of Europe is likely to question the viability of the EU itself. The vox populi is against "Brussels" and mainstream politicians are the only ones keeping the European Dream alive. However, they are under attack from extreme (left and right) political views.

Only a two-tier Europe might save the European Dream: a small core representing a political union and associate memberships for the majority of the current EU member states. In that case, even Turkey could be considered for an associate membership.

In several of my blogs, I mentioned that Western style democracies have some serious flaws and problems. Please see 29 October 2015 (Politics versus Population), 14 March 2016 (Change: urbanisation, City States and Democracy) and 26 March 2016 (Accountability and Responsibility in [] politics). In my 14 March 2016 blog, I even concluded that "Western style democracy may well be at the end of its life cycle".

One could argue that referenda have opened Pandora's box. I disagree as many people would feel the exact opposite: Hope escaped Pandora's box while Evil is now contained inside the box. I can live with this Dutch "NO" as its outcome is likely to pave the way to a system of direct democracy.

Pandora's Box - It's All Coming Back To Me Now (1989) - artists, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

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