Will voters give government a firm kick in the ballots?by Colm O Regan / March 20, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Ireland: referendums or referenda? And “yes” or “no”?
It’s simple. “The annual structural balance of the general government must be at its country-specific medium-term lower limit of a structural deficit of 0.5 per cent of the gross domestic product at market prices.”
All the Irish have to do is agree this is a good thing, put it in the constitution and move on. If the concept proves too difficult, advice is at hand. Between now and voting day a procession of humourless steely-rim spectacled men from the dancing-is-the-devil’s-work economies of northern Europe will be in Ireland to provide alternative wording such as: “are you aware what side your bread is buttered on?” Our constitution is not an especially delicate one. And we like referendums. We have had enough of them to spark regular debate on the correct plural for the word. The explanation is sufficiently complex that, as far as I’m concerned, peoples can choose whichever plural they wants.
The 30 or so referendums we’ve held so far have ranged from dusty questions of procedure, typically passed in the way one ticks the “I have read the terms and conditions” box, to hugely divisive reflections on aspects of the human condition like abortion.