EU Elite Again Gives Thumbs Down to Democracy
Isn't it three strikes and you're out? Not in the European Union, it seems. Just taxation without representation. Three times, and in three countries, Europe's governing elites have now blocked attempts to submit the so-called European Project of the European Union and its currency, the euro, to a popular vote. In one case, the attempt by a head of government to call a referendum even triggered his ouster from power and his replacement by an EU banker.
First was in the United Kingdom. There, on October 23, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition government faced down a Parliamentary resolution sponsored by his own Conservative back-benchers. It would have required that the UK's membership in the European Union be put to a referendum. The Conservatives once stood for such a vote.
With the help of the pro-EU Labour and Liberal Democratic MP's, the Conservative leadership put down the revolt. The motion was rejected by a vote of 483 to 111. Seventy-nine Conservatives voted for a referendum.
The second refusal by EU elites to allow European citizens to vote on their own destiny has played out over the last two weeks in Greece. It turns out that, at least according to the EU's lights, democracy is no longer allowed in the place where it began.
Greece's Prime Minister Papandreou is the third generation of a Greek political dynasty reaching back to the 1960's. However, he himself was new to office when his country's debt crisis -- brought on by years of financial fraud on Greece's books, a huge public sector and a "black market" economy and popular culture which refuses to pay taxes -- exploded this spring. Several timid EU-imposed debt restructuring failed to stop the contagion.
At the end of October, the EU and other Western European leaders announced yet another deal with the Greeks. Its key points were a 50% write-off of Greece's public debt and brutal cuts to the public sector. On November 1, PM Papandreou announced he would put the measure to a popular referendum.
Pandaemonium (a Greek word, fittingly) followed. In Brussels, the EU announced that, in that case, they would stop giving the Greek government money to keep the lights turned on. Immediately.
More pressure was applied to the Greeks at the G-20 Summit in Cannes over the weekend, at which U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao were both interested participants.
The end result? The referendum is cancelled. Mr. Papandreou -- the man who dared suggest the Greek people should be allowed to vote -- is out as Greece's Prime Minister. A new PM -- not chosen by the voters -- was announced in Athens yesterday. He's not a politician or an elected MP; he's a Eurocrat -- a Greek national but an economist and former governor of the European Central Bank. A new Cabinet of technocrats, not yet announced, will be sworn in on Friday.
And Greece has now taken the EU's deal.
Finally (at least for now), in the last 48 hours, there's been another casualty of the Cannes G-20 Summit: Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Italy, too, is facing a public debt crisis. It, too, has been seeking help from the EU.
And, once again, the price has been a change in government and in prime minister, with Mr. Berlusconi, like Mr. Papandreou, being replaced by an unelected Eurocrat.
Two days ago, Mr. Berlusconi told the Italian Parliament that, once the EU rescue package had been approved by both houses, he would be stepping down as Italy's Prime Minister. Today, it was announced in Rome that the new PM would be Mario Monti, a former EU Commissioner. To be able to fill that post, Mr. Monti has just been appointed a Senator for Life by Italy's President, a former Communist.
Mr. Monti, a socialist and former EU Competition Commissioner who was a runner-up to be head of the EU's Central Bank (where the new Greek PM used to be a governor), will head a new Cabinet of technocrats. Thus, Italy's conservative coalition government has been overturned.
So, to sum up: That's how it works now in Greece and Italy.
There are changes in governments and changes in prime ministers. If you're prime minister want to let the people vote on the EU Project or the latest bail-out plan, Brussels will engineer your ouster.
Not only do the Greeks and the Italians not get to vote on the EU. They don't get to chose their prime ministers either. It's all imposed by Brussels, in cooperation with Germany and France (the two Powers That Be in today's EU) and local elites.
And the new PM's are Eurocrats, not national political leaders. They're loyal to Brussels. Until the eve of their appointment as prime minister, they didn't even represent a local constituency in their parliaments.
Why not just haul down the Greek and Italian flags over their respective government buildings and run up the EU flag?
Interestingly, it should be pointed out how carefully the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has observed all democratic forms within Germany. Merkel's now effectively the leader of Western Europe as a result of the Eurozone crisis. It's the Germans and the Scandinavians who are paying for everything.
Ms. Merkel has submitted all such matters to the German Parliament, the Bundestag, for approval. She has also sought authorization and directions as to certain issues from the German Constitutional Court. So far, she's gotten it.
The actions of the German Chancellor have legitimacy. The contrast between Berlin and the actions of the governing elites in EU headquarters and national leaders in Greece, England and now in Italy could not be greater.
What are they afraid of? That's obvious.
Their own people.
It may get harder for the EU elites to keep control. Spain may be where the Eurozone's debt crisis goes next. And Spain has national elections scheduled for November 20.