In Dublin yesterday, I took some photographs of the posters around Henry Street and Talbot Street. By my non-scientific reckoning, “No” posters outnumbered “Yes” posters by about four to one. Balancing this is the fact that the three traditionally main parties in the Republic, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour are urging a “Yes” vote. Sinn Féin (according to polls the second largest party in the Republic) and assorted left-wing parties are on the “No” side.
Politics is about CHOICE. And the key thing is that those people who we might call the Political “Establishment”………and here I might add the business community, financial experts, journalists……are asking the people of Ireland to vote “Yes”. Indeed the sanity of those who want to vote “No” is being challenged. They are people from the backwoods, unsophisticated, alienated from the “system”. But as I believe that Politics is about choice….there is a peculiar “Hobsons Choice” being offered to the Electorate. The clear pragmatic choice is to vote “Yes”, recognising the fact that the three main parties have now asked the people of Ireland to confirm that they themselves are no longer fit to govern the nations finances and please could the citizens of Ireland take this aspect of governance out of their hands and hand it over to the European bankers.
Democracy sometimes has a knack of biting the Establishment on the arse. The Greeks ….who gave the word “democracy” to the world….voted against the politicians who were imposing Angela Merkels austerity. It wont of course do them any good …..as in a few weeks they have to do it again.
The legacy for European democracies is that their politcians have actually managed to restrict REAL CHOICE. In Ireland for example, no mainstream political party has been articulating the “No” case…it has fallen to Sinn Féin …..still somewhere between the margins and the mainstream……to rail against the notion of Austerity and loss of Sovreignty…..rather than to make a “reasonable” argument. The Irish Electorate are presented with a choice between Reason and Romance………Pragmatism and Gesture.
In a sense it is almost safe to vote “No” because the vote will either be ignored or the voters will be asked to do it again. Thats how European Democracy seems to work these days. How the Referendum plays out against the ongoing Greek Tragedy and the glimmer of “hope” or “resistance” of Francois Hollandes election in France remains to be seen. Will it embolden “No” voters?
I think it is a tragedy that people like Éamonn Ó Cuiv have been silenced by Fianna Fáil or that voices within the trade unions campaigning for a “No” vote have been marginalised by Labour.
The posters seem to stress the Pragmatism and Gesture split. Indeed all three “Yes” posters use the word “Stability”. Two of the three “No” posters use the word “Austerity” and the third does so implicitly.
Thats the Choice…….or Non-Choice.