”The upcoming popular vote in Greece on two key documents by the so-called Troika demonstrates the incompatibility between national democracies and international economic governance regimes. This conflict has led to the fatalistic situation of handling ad-hoc responsibility to the Greek people in an instant plebiscite. While appreciating the involvement of the Greek people, this is definitely an unlucky exercise of real direct democracy” states Bruno Kaufmann, board member of Democracy International.
Last Saturday the Greek government had announced to hold a ”referendum” on the Troika’s reform proposals. Yet, in terms of modern direct democracy, this move is higly problematic for several reasons. First, there is basically no institutional and cultural context in Greece: the last nationwide vote on substantive issues dates back to 1974, when the Greek people had to decide whether to replace the military regime with a monarchy or a republic (and subsequently opted for a republic). Second, ”plebiscitarian” features dominate in this vote: the ruling power in Greece decided to ”delegate” the vote to the people without allowing sufficient time for deliberation and comprehensive information.Third, the plebiscite-referendum clearly shows also the European Union’s lacking political will to establish democratic infrastructures on all political levels.
”In the EU it is simply not enough to refer to things we do not like such as war, violence, or human rights abuse. We need much more political will, resources and time to establish and develop sustainable democratic infrastructures on all political levels. The EU Treaty establishes direct citizens’ participation as a fundamental pillar of modern democracy. So it is high time to take the proper democratic functioning more seriously and to actually implement adequate long-term democractic and inclusive instruments, such as a democratic European Convention and a properly-functioning European Citizens’ Initiative”, so Bruno Kaufmann on behalf of Democracy International, which has been campaigning for more democracy at EU level for the last 20 years.
Article 11 of the ”EU Lisbon Treaty” establishes direct citizens participation as a fundamental pillar of modern democracy, including a European Citizens’ Intiative that allows more than one million citizens to submit a law proposal to the European Commission. Article 48 of the EU Treaty foresees a European Convention when the core legal fundamentals of the European Union are concernced. In the format of an open, democratic and transparent assembly, politicians, citizens and stakeholders could commonly debate and decide on Europe’s future.
”If these articles would have been implemented properly in order to include citizens in the EU’s fundamental future decision-making, Greece and Europe would not be in this very different situation today. So we need to learn from this and put much more efforts into making European democracy truly democratic”, Bruno Kaufmann concludes his remarks.