Saturday, January 27, 2007

A mixed-up bunny

Re-entering the debate on the EU constitution comes pensioner Alan Pavelin, of Chislehurst, Kent, in a letter to The Daily Telegraph. A profligate writer - although more at home in the Independent (and very much opposed to nasty things like referendums) - he writes:

Sir - I would point out that the treaty was negotiated by the elected governments of all the (then) 25 member states; that 18 countries (either through their elected parliaments or by referendum) have accepted it and only two have rejected it; and that, of the countries that held referendums, the total of yes votes exceeded the total of no votes.

By all means argue against the treaty because you don't like its provisions (which include, for the first time, a provision allowing any member state to leave the EU) or because you don't think one country should have any influence in what happens in another country on important issues such as climate change or terrorism.

But please don't argue against the treaty on grounds of democracy, because this flies in the face of the facts.
So, by this token, because 18 other countries have accepted the constitution, and that comprises a majority, we too should accept it because that is democratic?

Now, imagine if you will walking down the street and being accosted by a gang of 20 youths. They decide to hold a vote – to which you are invited to join – as to whether you should give them your wallet. Needless to say, the vote goes against you by a factor of 20-1. Do you accede to the "democratic" majority?

And therein lies the flaw in Mr Pavelin's thinking. He confuses "democracy" with "rule of the majority", which is an altogether different thing.


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