Democratie werkt het best als meerstemmig koor

Hoe erg is het wanneer je van iets niets weet en daar toch een oordeel over moet geven?

Men moet bijvoorbeeld stemmen over een Nexit – gaat Nederland uit de EU of blijft het erin?

Je kunt nu het volgende betoog houden: ik weet niks over een Nexit en ik laat mij adviseren door politici of slimme functionarissen bij wie ik me het meeste thuisvoel. Of je zegt: ik ga mij verdiepen in de materie. Er is natuurlijk ook een derde weg: niet stemmen omdat het je niks interesseert of omdat je het niet wil laten weten.

Een democratie werkt het best als een meerstemmig koor. Je moet sopranen, alten, tenoren en bassen kunnen horen. En dan ook graag drie- of vierstemmig zingen.

Wat je nu merkt, is dat men, als de muziek niet bevalt, het koor wil veranderen. Dan moeten er stemmen weggelaten worden.

Zo zie je bij het referendum over de Brexit dat de uitslag een groot gedeelte van de kiezers niet beviel. Die willen dan meteen aan de democratie knoeien. Ze willen ouderen het stemrecht ontnemen, referenda onmogelijk maken of mensen een examen laten doen waaruit zou moeten blijken dat ze genoeg verstand hebben van het onderwerp.

Al die ideeën zijn nogal ondemocratisch en tamelijk dom. Wie zegt mij dat de stomste Nederlander toch niet de juiste keuze kan maken? Omgekeerd kan ook. Ik heb toevallig gisteren Pechtold, van wie ik denk dat hij heus wel enige intelligentie bezit, wéér de domste opinies bekakt horen krassen.

Lees deze column van Theodor Holman verder op Het Parool

Zo typisch Brits is de Brexit niet

Waarom willen zoveel Britten (en anderen) de EU uit? Omdat de EU is veranderd. De Britten houden ons een spiegel voor, meent econoom Adriaan Schout.

Zijn de Britten gek geworden? Het lijkt onbestaanbaar dat het Verenigd Koninkrijk (VK) wil afhaken van de grote Europese markt met een half miljard ontwikkelde consumenten. Hun EU-debat is even verward als een gemiddelde Monty Pythonaflevering, met toneelspelers die overlopen van Britse excentriciteit en onderwerpen die absurdistisch aan elkaar geregen zijn.

Karikaturen als Boris Johnson spelen met het uiteenvallen van hun land, omdat Schotland Europees wil blijven, met opleving van conflicten in Noord-Ierland, en met hun toegang tot wereldmarkten terwijl ze onzin spuien over kromme bananen en het EU-budget.

Wereldleiders, experts, belangengroepen en journalisten spiegelen de Britten doemscenario’s voor: Rusland en China zullen de geopolitieke winnaars zijn, de EU blijft verdeeld achter, de Verenigde Staten wenden zich af van de EU en de EU wordt protectionistischer. Kennelijk houden de Britten wel van een gokje met de wereldgeschiedenis – en met hun eigen voortbestaan als land.

Maar laten wij, de rest van de EU, toch wat doen om de Britten te begrijpen. Het is te verleidelijk om hun referendum af te doen als het volgende staaltje Britse absurditeit dat verder niets met ons te maken heeft. Als het om EU-beleid gaat, waren de Britten vaak zo gek nog niet. Laten we even proberen open te staan voor hun Eurowrevel om erger voor onszelf als Nederlanders en voor de hele EU te voorkomen. Daarbij: binnen of buiten de EU, we zullen met de Britten door moeten.

Begrip is wel het laatste waar de Britten op kunnen rekenen. Bij een leave-uitkomst staat het VK een afstraffing te wachten. Een stap terug van Europese eenwording past niet in de denkkaders van wereldleiders. Commissiepresident Juncker heeft gedreigd de westerburen als deserteurs te behandelen. De rest van de EU is doodsbang voor vergelijkbare democratische exit-discussies in andere lidstaten.

President Obama hield de Britten voor dat ze achteraan moeten aansluiten bij handelsafspraken. De VS maken die afspraken liever met 500 miljoen consumenten in de EU dan met de 65 miljoen Britten. De VS willen een sterk Europees blok in plaats van dat verdeelde Europa.

Dreigende taal voorafgaand aan het referendum is prima. Vertrek moet, ook in het Nederlandse en het Europese belang, ontmoedigd worden. Maar na Brexit of Bremain op 23 juni dient Europa’s woede plaats te maken voor zakelijkheid en begrip.

Het eerste wat ons te doen staat is erkennen dat referenda over de EU tot het democratische landschap zijn gaan behoren. Meestal zijn de uitkomsten een rem op Europese integratie. Nederland had in april het Oekraïnereferendum waar een ‘tegen’ uitkwam, de Denen kozen in hun volksraadpleging in december tegen verdergaande integratie van politiediensten.

Europese integratie heeft draagvlak nodig en referenda zijn, hoe omstreden ook, één onderdeel in het bepalen van de grenzen van de publieke steun.

Lees verder op Trouw

De hoogleraar die uit de EU wil

Alan Sked is hoogleraar aan de gerenommeerde London School of Economics én voorstander van een Brexit. Daarmee vormt hij een een uitzondering op zijn universiteit, maar dat deert hem niet.

“Jean Claude Juncker is de kapitein van de Titanic. Hij ziet de grote ijsberg voor zich liggen en toch zegt hij: volle kracht vooruit. Dat is wat er op dit moment gebeurt met de Europese Unie.”

Om metaforen zit Alan Sked (68) niet verlegen om zijn afkeer van de Europese Unie kracht bij te zetten. Hij is als hoogleraar internationale geschiedenis verbonden aan de gerenommeerde London School of Economics (LSE). Maar in Groot-Brittannië is hij vooral bekend als de oprichter van de UK Independence Party (Ukip) begin jaren negentig.

Sked is een van de weinige academici in het Vertrek-kamp. Op de LSE wordt hij omringd door collega’s die pleiten voor een langer verblijf in de EU. Maar dat deert hem niet, hij is wel vaker voor gek versleten. “Iedereen mag van me denken wat-ie wil, maar het anti-EU-gevoel is breed gedragen in onze samenleving. En niet alleen hier, maar in heel Europa. In Frankrijk, Italië en Nederland. We zijn niet alleen.”

Het cruciale probleem zit ‘m voor Sked in de veranderingen die de EU de afgelopen decennia heeft doorgemaakt. Brussel koerst af op alsmaar meer politieke integratie, een koers die volgens hem onomkeerbaar is.

“Premier Cameron wil ons deze hele campagne doen geloven dat we de EU zo hard nodig hebben om handel met ze te drijven. Maar als het alleen om handel zou gaan, waarom is er dan een Europees Parlement, een Europese vlag, een Europees volkslied en wordt er zelfs over een Europees leger gesproken? Het gaat uiteindelijk om de creatie van de Verenigde Staten van Europa. Dat wil niemand hier. De daadwerkelijke prijs die we voor het EU-lidmaatschap moeten betalen, is het einde van onze onafhankelijkheid.”

Lees verder op Trouw

Brexit: Made in UK, designed in Brussels

If the British vote for Brexit, the European Union will be reaping what it has sown.

In 1992, Denmark voted against the Maastricht Treaty, which established the possibility of creating a common European currency. In France’s referendum on the same issue, only 51.1 percent voted in favour.

What if Europe’s leaders had listened to the doubts of their citizens and ditched the Maastricht Treaty?

The euro enabled countries to borrow more cheaply than they ever could have done without access to the ECB’s cheap financing. But this wasn’t a good thing.

It allowed Belgium, Greece and Italy to postpone necessary public sector reforms. As a result, the public sector and the public debt burden were allowed to grow even bigger.

It led to property bubbles and massive private debt in Ireland and Spain, which forced both countries to beg for a bailout. It led to transfers between countries, through the bailout funds and the ECB, and between taxpayers and banks. For example in Greece, the banks were able to dump a large part of their exposure on to eurozone taxpayers.
The common currency threatens the EU

The conditions linked to those transfers, in the form of a Troika or a Memorandum of Understanding, evoked a lot of anger in those countries forced to comply with the conditions.

Savers, insurance companies and pensioners in Germany, the Benelux and elsewhere have expressed their anger at the ECB using loose monetary policies, for example low and negative interest rates, to keep the euro project alive.

Italy’s GDP per capita is smaller than before it joined the euro. The “banking union”, common Eurozone regulation and supervision for banks, has the UK government worried about eurozone protectionism, fearing non-eurozone banks may one day no longer enjoy access to the single market without having to comply with eurozone rules.

In many countries, anger about the economic misery brought about by the euro debt machine translates into a vote for parties keen to leave the EU. In short, the common currency has ended up threatening the EU.
Anti-EU sentiment

Was the euro needed for countries to trade? No, it wasn’t. The UK, Poland and Sweden are happily trading without being a member. Was it needed to force a crisis which could then be abused to centralise power and organise transfers? Yes it was.

There were the referendums on the Nice Treaty, rejected by the Irish in 2001, the “European Constitution”, rejected by the French and the Dutch in 2005, and the Lisbon Treaty, rejected again by the Irish in 2008.

Lees verder op EUobserver

Brexit vote is about the supremacy of parliament and nothing else

At heart, the Brexit vote is about the supremacy of Parliament. All else is noise.

With sadness and tortured by doubts, I will cast my vote as an ordinary citizen for withdrawal from the European Union.

Let there be no illusion about the trauma of Brexit. Anybody who claims that Britain can lightly disengage after 43 years enmeshed in EU affairs is a charlatan or a dreamer, or has little contact with the realities of global finance and geopolitics.

Stripped of distractions, it comes down to an elemental choice: whether to restore the full self-government of this nation, or to continue living under a higher supranational regime, ruled by a European Council that we do not elect in any meaningful sense, and that the British people can never remove, even when it persists in error.

For some of us – and we do not take our cue from the Leave campaign – it has nothing to do with payments into the EU budget. Whatever the sum, it is economically trivial, worth unfettered access to a giant market.

We are deciding whether to be guided by a Commission with quasi-executive powers that operates more like the priesthood of the 13th Century papacy than a modern civil service; and whether to submit to a European Court of Justice (ECJ) that claims sweeping supremacy, with no right of appeal.

It is whether you think the nation states of Europe are the only authentic fora of democracy, be it in this country, Sweden, the Netherlands, or France – where Nicholas Sarkozy has launched his presidential bid with an invocation of King Clovis and 1,500 years of Frankish unity.

My Europhile Greek friend Yanis Varoufakis and I both agree on one central point, that today’s EU is a deformed halfway house that nobody ever wanted. His solution is a great leap forward towards a United States of Europe with a genuine parliament holding an elected president to account. Though even he doubts his dream. “There is a virtue in heroic failure” he said.

I do not think this is remotely possible, or would be desirable if it were, but it is not on offer anyway. Six years into the eurozone crisis and there is no a flicker of fiscal union: no eurobonds, no Hamiltonian redemption fund, no pooling of debt, and no budget transfers. The banking union belies its name. Germany and the creditor states have dug in their heels.

Where we concur is that the EU as constructed is not only corrosive but ultimately dangerous, and that is the phase we have now reached as governing authority crumbles across Europe.

The Project bleeds the lifeblood of the national institutions, but fails to replace them with anything lovable or legitimate at a European level. It draws away charisma, and destroys it. This is how democracies die.

Lees verder op The Telegraph

Belangrijkste adviseur Cameron gaat voor Brexit

By Steve Hilton for the Daily Mail.

Not long after starting work in Downing Street, I found myself on a Eurostar train heading for Brussels. It was an eye-opening trip. But its origin lay in a truly shocking discovery some weeks earlier.

Before the 2010 general election, Francis Maude and Oliver Letwin, two of the Conservative Party’s key policymakers, and I had worked with each Tory shadow minister on detailed plans for the implementation of our policies — including work to understand how the EU would affect what we wanted to do.

We thought we had a pretty good idea of how to handle — or, ideally, circumnavigate — the constraints imposed by European rules, regulations and bureaucracy. However, we were little prepared for the sheer scale of it all.

After just a few weeks in government, I was struck by how many things the Government was doing that the Prime Minister and his team didn’t just not know about but actively disagreed with.

I investigated. It turned out that every few days, a pile of paperwork about a foot high was circulated in Whitehall. The paperwork gave the go-ahead for Government action and was supposedly based on written approval from the relevant ministers.

But here’s the catch: ministers were given two days to respond to any proposal. If no response came, then this was taken as a ‘yes’.

There was no way any minister could possibly read all the proposals by the deadline. Furthermore, there was an unspoken rule that one department wouldn’t interfere in proposals coming from another. In fact, as I recall, there was only one minister who regularly did so (much to the consternation of the others), and that was Michael Gove.

From my vantage point at No 10, though, I wanted to know where it all came from. What were these ‘requests for policy clearance’, as they were known? How many were really necessary for the delivery of our promises?

I asked for a detailed audit.

It turned out that some 30 per cent of government action was relevant to what we were supposed to be doing. The rest — you’ve guessed it — was generated from within the civil service machine, the majority coming from the EU.

That’s why I found myself on that Eurostar to Brussels. I wanted to know: how exactly do we end up with all these policies we don’t want, which no one in Britain voted for, and which waste so much time, energy and money?

With us on the journey was Sir Kim Darroch, then Britain’s Permanent Representative to the European Union — our top EU diplomat.

He briefed us on Brussels procedures, and how we might stop — or at least reduce — the flow of unwanted bureaucracy. It was a fascinating and enlightening conversation. The only problem was: almost everything he told us turned out to be completely wrong.

We spent the following day meeting various players in the Brussels set-up, in the European Commission, Parliament and Council, who explained how things really got done. And it slowly dawned on us that the man tasked with representing Britain in the EU literally didn’t understand how it worked.

Now, before anyone jumps down my throat, saying ‘there he goes again, attacking the civil service’, I want to make it clear that I have the highest respect for Sir Kim, who is a model public servant and now our Ambassador in Washington.

It’s not his fault: it’s the system that’s to blame.

It’s become so complicated, so secretive, so impenetrable that it’s way beyond the ability of any British government to make it work to our advantage — even though I have no doubt that things have improved since the Coalition Government’s early days.

In this debate on the EU referendum, it’s easy to throw around terms like ‘sovereignty’ and ‘democracy’; ‘freedom’ and ‘bureaucracy’. But in the end, we’re debating not some abstract concept, but a very specific question about how our country should be run.

And my view, based on a pragmatic, non-ideological assessment of how the EU operates, is that as long as we are members, our country cannot be ‘run’. Membership of the EU makes Britain literally un-governable, in the sense that no administration elected by the people can govern the country.

A democracy is based on the notion that the people — or their directly-elected representatives — are able to decide issues for themselves. And yet membership of the EU brings with it constraints on everything from employment law to family policy, all determined through distant, centralised processes we hardly understand, let alone control.

You may say: Well, that’s government for you — it always involves compromise. Indeed it does, but at least in a democracy, the compromises are clear and transparent and can be argued over and influenced by the people who are affected by them. Yet no such possibility exists in the grotesquely unaccountable EU.

As I say to my American friends who don’t really get what the EU is: ‘All you need to know is that it has three presidents, none of whom is elected.’

The European Union was born out of lofty ideals. And for many years, it served a valuable purpose. As an expression of the liberal values of democracy and freedom, it was a beacon to the subjugated peoples of Europe — including in Communist Hungary, from where my own parents fled.

But, today, the EU has become the institutional manifestation of almost everything I argue against in my book, More Human.

There, I set out my view that the systems and structures we have designed to run the modern world have become too big, bureaucratic and distant from the human scale. And I make the case for what is in many ways a classical liberal reform agenda: I am pro-market, pro-enterprise, pro-trade, pro-putting power in people’s hands.

The EU does the opposite. It is anti-market, stifling innovation and competition with its statism, corporatism and bureaucracy.

It is anti-enterprise, acting in the interests of the big businesses that have corruptly captured the levers of power in Brussels through their shameless lobbying and insider deal-making, enabling a gradual corporate takeover of our country.

The European Union is anti-trade, locking developing countries out of world markets with its evil Common Agricultural Policy that feather-beds French farmers while keeping African farmers trapped in poverty — and despair.

And I don’t think even the EU’s most fervent supporters would ever claim that it ‘puts power in people’s hands’. The whole point of the EU is to take power out of people’s hands in pursuit of a greater good. The trouble is, it’s not good enough.

These are issues that a reformed EU might address. I could certainly live with an imperfect EU that nevertheless showed some willingness towards dispersing, rather than centralising, power.

But it is perfectly obvious to everyone, including Mr Cameron, that no such reorientation will ever be countenanced.

The arrogant and dismissive treatment of Britain’s relatively modest demands in the 2015/2016 negotiations shows that the EU is just not interested in anything other than superficial change. You might as well hope for Vladimir Putin to embrace liberal democracy. Of course, the EU is perfectly entitled to such a disposition. But it’s as well to be clear about it.

And so one way of thinking about this referendum is that the choice is actually not between staying and leaving — but between leaving, and joining a new EU.

Because the EU after a British vote to stay would be a very different creature from the one we have today. It would be the EU unleashed, freed from the constraints of having to placate the pesky British with their endless complaining and threats to leave.

Once they know we will never leave, all our leverage will be gone. Look how they treated a British Prime Minister armed with the threat of Brexit. Can you imagine how they would treat a future PM without such a powerful card to play?

And remember that this is for the long term. Even if you think Cameron’s deal will protect us from the worst excesses of the EU, the fact is that he will be in office for only another four years at most.

What will happen in 14 years’ time? Or 24? Who knows what kind of Prime Minister we will have, and whether he or she will give up everything David Cameron negotiated — just like Tony Blair gave up the opt-out from the Social Chapter negotiated by John Major (a capitulation which meant that, under the system of qualified majority voting, Britain could subsequently be overruled by other European countries on issues such as working conditions and health and safety).

The one thing we can be certain of — because it’s based not on speculation or scaremongering but on what has happened in the past — is that the EU will only ever move in one direction: more centralisation, more bureaucracy, more power shifting further from people’s hands.

From that clarity should come an informed decision to leave. To regain control over our country’s destiny, so that a democratically elected government in Britain is free to carry out its mandate, whether that’s Left, Right or Centre.

For me, it would mean economic and employment policy that makes Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business; family policy that makes Britain the best place in the world to bring up children; competition, planning and government reform that finally allows us to prioritise the small, the local, the ‘inefficient’, the beautiful, the human.

Others would have a different agenda. But don’t you see, if a political party wins the votes, then that party should be allowed to make it happen.

That’s what it’s all about. That’s why I think we should leave.

People ask: what about the economy, and access to Europe’s Single Market? Would we end up like Norway? Or Switzerland?

No. We’re bigger than that; better than that. Our independent relationship with the EU would be like that of our peers — the U.S. is not a member of the EU, but the last time I checked, General Motors had no problem selling cars there. Or Heinz, ketchup. Or Starbucks, coffee.

It’s a particular vanity of politicians to believe that all good things in the world come from their actions. The economic reality is that our success in trade depends far more on fundamental factors such as comparative advantage — whether we are designing and making things others want to buy — than on politicians’ bureaucratic schemes.

But the bottom line on the economic argument is that no one really knows. It’s clearly ridiculous to claim that it’s settled in either direction; there are risks whatever we do.

The real choice is not economic security or economic risk, but what kind of government will equip us best to cope with a risky, fast-changing world?

I think, on balance, that the answer to that question is a government that we control, that can move at a pace we set, rather than the inevitably sclerotic speed of a committee of 28 countries, with vastly different circumstances.

Then we’re told that the EU is vital for our security. Really? I was pretty amazed when I first heard this point being made. The idea that a British Prime Minister can’t protect Britain properly without the EU is frankly astonishing and, if true, rather alarming.

But, of course, it’s not true. Yes, in a complex world of global threats, we need security co-operation with other countries — like what happens in NATO. Forgive me if I’ve missed something, but I wasn’t aware that this referendum is about leaving NATO.

And our closest security partner is the U.S. We manage to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in fighting terrorism and other threats without being locked in a supra-national institutional embrace. We co-operate as two countries. That’s what we would do if we left the EU.

But perhaps the most powerful argument for leaving the EU is to look at the people who are wheeled out to persuade us to stay: figures like the International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, advertising giant Sir Martin Sorrell, as well as the Confederation of British Industry and all the other Establishment stooges.

They want us to stay in the EU because their whole world depends upon it. Their lifestyle of summit meetings and first-class flights and five-star hotels; their flitting and floating from New York to Brussels to Beijing, serving the interests of the technocratic elite — the bankers, bureaucrats and accountants who run the modern world and who, regardless of which government is in power in which country, push the same old dogma of global-isation, privatisation and centralisation.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a fan of global trade and a champion of the private sector.

But when those good things are accompanied by centralisation, the result is an unhealthy concentration of economic and political power that is fundamentally hostile to my belief in individual freedom and social responsibility, and my confidence in human nature and the good that will come when individuals, families and neighbourhoods work together without a far-away administrator’s master-plan.

A decision to leave the EU is not without risk, but I believe it is the ideal and idealistic choice for our times. Taking back power from arrogant, unaccountable, hubristic elites and putting it where it belongs. In people’s hands.

Bron: Daily Mail

Er is leven buiten de EU

Jawel, er is leven na de EU, én buiten de EU! Een betoog van Daniel Hannan, natuurlijk in het kader van het Brexit referendum op 23 juni aanstaande, maar ook voor ons zeer de moeite van het kijken waard. Over de bangmakerij dat Groot-Brittannië ten dode opgeschreven zou zijn na een Brexit versus de landen die het economisch goed doen zonder EU en waar het ook goed en gelukkig toeven is. De EU is daarvoor geen noodzakelijke voorwaarde.

Brexit biedt juist voordelen

Binnenkort vindt het gevreesde Brexit referendum in het Verenigd Koninkrijk plaats. Wat en hoe gaat dit in zijn werk en wat voor mogelijke impact een eventuele Brexit heeft op de desbetreffende economieën, zijn vragen die ik in deze column zal proberen te beantwoorden.

Na lang gesteggel heeft de Britse regering dan toch besloten om een referendum te houden over de vraag of Engeland uit de EU moet stappen. Het referendum zal op 23 juni gaan plaatsvinden, maar zelfs dit is niet helemaal zeker. Door het wat aparte Britse regels omtrent referenda is er deze week een beslissing gevallen die wat beroering heeft veroorzaakt bij het pro Brexit kamp. Het is namelijk zo dat er door een soort kiescommissie twee organisaties worden aangewezen (eentje voor pro Brexit en de ander voor de anti Brexit) die de campagne mogen leiden. Dit betekent dat zij een ander maximum aan campagnebudget krijgen opgelegd, namelijk GBP 7 miljoen in plaats van GBP 700.000. Verder krijgen de twee verkozen organisaties elk de gratis mogelijkheid om één folder naar ieder huishouden te sturen met hun standpunten, mogen zij gebruik maken van bepaalde publieke ruimtes, krijgen zij TV zendtijd en tot GBP 600.000 aan kosten vergoed voor het leiden van de campagne.

Het anti-Brexitkamp heeft maar één organisatie, dus die werd dan ook verkozen om de anti campagne te leiden met bovengenoemde voordelen. Het pro-Brexit kamp bestond echter uit twee grote organisaties met aan de ene kant het door UKIP geleidde Leave.EU/ Grassroots Out en aan de andere kant het door Boris Johnson en Michael Gove geleidde Vote Leave. Ondanks de grotere support van de kiezer (of juist daarom…), kreeg Leave.EU/Grassroots Out niet de nominatie. Het feit dat de Leave EU organisatie geleid wordt door leden van de regerende conservatieve partij zal ook niet nadelig zijn geweest voor het Leave EU-kamp in dezen.

Een fervente supporter en sponsor van UKIP was echter furieus en heeft met juridische stappen gedreigd. Dit zou het referendum tot oktober kunnen vertragen. Het lijkt er vandaag op dat Nigel Farage van UKIP de vrede binnen het pro Brexit kamp heeft weten te herstellen, maar de kans op een uitstel van het referendum is nog steeds aanwezig.

Lees deze column van Alexanders Sassen van Elsloo verder op DFT