The Lisbon Treaty is dead
Statement by the National Executive Committee, Communist Party of Ireland
21 June 2008
The National Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Ireland at its first meeting after the referendum result welcomed the victory of the No campaign on the Treaty of Lisbon.
The party expressed its solidarity with and support for all those who struggled to bring about an important victory for democracy, not just in Ireland but throughout the European Union. The Irish No vote is a significant setback for the pro-imperialist forces in Ireland and for the emerging imperialist entity, the European Union. Despite the total opposition of all the establishment parties—Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Labour Party, and the leadership of the Green Party—as well as overwhelming opposition and active hostility from the mass media, the forces of democracy prevailed.
The victory of the No campaigners was a victory for democracy and sovereignty, against militarism and the race to the bottom in workers’ wages and conditions, and for the defence of public services. The party recognised that in the main the vote was a positive expression of a democratic spirit and a weak but important anti-imperialist expression of the Irish people. Working people, fishing communities and small farmers came out to deliver a significant rebuff to the plans of their political masters in Brussels.
The Communist Party acknowledges the courageous role played by a number of trade unions that, despite great pressure both from within the ICTU and from the Government, actively campaigned for a No vote among their members. This had an important impact throughout the trade union movement and was the first time since Ireland joined the EEC in 1973 that a significant section of the working class broke ranks both with the Government and with the ICTU and the ETUC to oppose the current direction of the European Union. It is becoming increasingly clear to growing numbers of workers and their organisations throughout the European Union that “social Europe” is dead.
The party condemned the slavish approach taken by certain leading members of trade unions and by leading elements of the ICTU in supporting the Yes campaign led by employers and the Government, hiding behind the veil of an illusory “Charter of Fundamental Rights” as an excuse for siding with the interests of European monopoly capitalism. The ICTU leadership, like that of the ETUC, is clearly out of touch with the concerns of working people, not just in Ireland but throughout the EU.
Since the Irish people voted No, the shallowness of the establishment’s commitment to democracy has been exposed, both at the national and the EU level. Even before the Irish vote was declared, José Manuel Barroso, president of the EU Commission, was demanding that governments throughout the European Union push ahead with the ratification process. The slavish approach of the Cowen-led coalition Government in going to the meeting of EU heads of government looking for more time to work out a strategy for having a second run of the referendum expresses in the clearest possible way the craven and subservient role of the Irish establishment in relation to the European Union. From the moment the result was declared they have been attempting to undermine and reverse the democratic vote of the Irish people.
The vote reflected a strong class divide, with working people, small farming and fishing communities coming out to vote No. Despite the best efforts of the establishment media, they saw through the fog of confusion that was created. In particular, the party notes the significant proportion of young people and of women who voted No as a very heartening development. The breadth of the anti-treaty forces mobilised gave rise to many diverse forms of opposition, which was a significant factor contributing to the successful outcome.
The Irish people have bought time for the European labour movement to step forward and begin the difficult but necessary task of resistance to imperialism and the continuing and sustained attacks on the gains of working people made over many decades during the period of the existence of the socialist bloc of countries in Europe, headed by the Soviet Union. The CPI believes we are at an early stage in the development of a better and clearer understanding of the true nature of the European Union and its imperialist character, and that the struggle for democracy will increasingly take on a more explicitly anti-imperialist character.
The CPI is of the belief that the central question now is winning the support of progressive forces, in particular working-class forces, throughout the European Union to defend the Irish No vote and to stop the whole ratification process altogether. It is not our duty to present solutions to the contradictions of the establishment but rather to press forward for a more democratic solution to the needs and aspirations of workers throughout the European Union. The proposed Treaty of Lisbon was not only against the interests of the Irish people but was an attack on all the working people of the European Union, and an attack on democracy.
The European elite has a programme for the construction of a superstate that serves the interests only of big business, which is why its institutions are not democratically accountable. They have co-opted all the main political parties, and the leadership of many trade unions, and of course have the backing of the mass media. Yet with all their arrogance and mendacity they failed to overcome the doubts of the French and Dutch and now the Irish people.
The victory of the No vote in Ireland provides an opportunity for working people and all democrats throughout the European Union to call a halt to this anti-democratic process and begin the struggle to reverse it. This opportunity needs to be seized now: we cannot just wait while a new strategy for a rerun of the treaty is being prepared.
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