The presidium of the Convention published its first draft Art. 34 (principle of participatory democracy). It was very disappointing for us to see that direct democracy was not mentioned at all. Only "structured dialogues with the so-called representative organisations and civil society" was included.
There was only one week left to submit amendments to the presidium, but after analysing the existing amendments (four or five were going in our direction) we agreed to continue the gathering of signatures until a much more impressive number of supporters is gained.
The next Convention plenary on 24th-25th April was very important for us as well. Jürgen Meyer presented both proposals in the meeting of the social democratic Convention members and gained a lot of support. At the plenary discussion on the so-called "democratic life of the Union", many members spoke in favour of a referendum and of elements of direct democracy in the constitution. At the end of the debate, Giscard indicated that he would test the referendum idea in the presidium. We left Brussels with 75 and 26 signatories respectively.
Approaching the end of the Convention process
The following two Convention meetings (on 15 to 16 and 30 to 31 May) were characterized by a growing dissatisfaction with the work of the presidium. Many of the proposed amendments had not been even considered. On key issues such as the institutions there were still no texts and the end of the Convention's scheduled work was coming closer and closer. It became more and more difficult to find more signatories for the referendum, because we had already discussed with most of the Convention members (sometimes we felt like Convention members as well).
At the second plenary meeting in May we finalised the collecting signatures. We distributed more than 700 leaflets with the slogan "Last call for referendum" with the help of some Belgian and Dutch activists. We finished our work with 93 and 43 signatories. Alain Lamassoure and Jürgen Meyer agreed to submit the texts to the presidium the following week. Continue reading our story...
Text by Dr. Michael Efler