Ireland's "no" vote had little to do with the EU. But one way or another, the treaty will be enactedby Andrew Moravcsik / July 26, 2008 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2008 issue of Prospect Magazine
The Irish referendum result—like the French and Dutch results in 2005—was not a rejection of the treaty of Lisbon. The outcome tells us almost nothing about views of Europe. Instead, it tells us a lot about referendums.
Polling evidence suggests that the Irish public, as in France and the Netherlands, overwhelmingly support the substantive content of the Lisbon treaty. (The only real controversy in Ireland was over small-country “voice” in voting weights and the number of commissioners.) This is why every political party in Ireland, except for one wing of Sinn Féin, supported it.
The treaty essentially ratified the status quo. It contained no grand ideas—nothing like the single currency underlying Maastricht in 1991 or the single market that preceded it in 1986. The major elements were a slightly strengthened co-ordinating apparatus for foreign policy, a rebalancing of voting weights, an elected president to replace the revolving one and carefully circumscribed majority voting in a few areas like sport and energy.