Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Fico to EU member state politicians: Don't trust your voters

Reuters has reported some comments made by Slovakia's Prime Minister, Robert Fico, yesterday which include this:
I am asking EU leaders to stop with adventures like the British and Italian referendums (...) on domestic issues which pose a threat to the EU.
He went on to pose this rhetorical question:
What will we do if ... there is a referendum in Italy on the euro and Italian citizens decide they don't want the euro?
This is just the latest in a line of clear examples of the 'them and us' segregation of the political class and voters, something that voters are increasingly deciding to challenge and reject.

The welfare of the EU matters far more to politicians like Fico than such triviality as Italian voters being able to determine the direction of their own country. Fico's solution to anything that undermines the EU getting its own way is to call on political leaders across the EU to deny voters in their countries any say on matters that could result in inconvenient outcomes. That is, to deny them democracy.

Supporters of projects like the EU and of the kind of politics that sees an elite govern in its own interests, beyond accountability, rather than govern in the interests of the voters who elect them, are evidently worried that people's resentment of the status quo is translating into action at the ballot box. Their response is two-fold:
  1. to follow the Fico approach and prevent voters having the opportunity to effect change in the first place, or 
  2. if votes are held and reject what the elite wants, to declare the vote was somehow flawed and seek to delegitimise it by claiming the voters were ignorant, or misled, or intended something else, or were seduced by 'populists', then pack the media with stories about protests, challenges, court cases to overturn the democratic outcome.
Politicians are supposed to be the servants of the people, carrying out their wishes and representing them in the law making chambers of the state. But over the years many of them have much preferred to accord themselves a special status, be a law unto themselves, and do whatever suits their own interests once they have been elected, assuming the role of rulers and masters. 

The political battle of this era isn't left vs right, or even the tussle of authoritarians vs libertarians, but between the anti-democratic political elite (and its hangers on) and ordinary people who are treated as pawns in power games. The Brexit vote and election of Donald Trump in 2016 suggests many ordinary people appear to be pushing back and lending their votes to those 'populists' who (shockingly) pledge to do what representatives are supposed to and put voter wishes and interests first. 

This is as it should be. Politics needs to change to counter the unhealthy two-tier hierarchy that has developed, so that real democracy, people power, has a chance of being realised. The likes of Robert Fico and the massed ranks of the EU and its supporters stand in our way.

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