Former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel has been working for a national initiative process for the United States for many years. See www.nationalinitiative.us for more about this project. Gravel’s recent campaign for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination helped publicize his goal, at least among Libertarians and others who followed the party’s presidential contest this year.
Gravel’s Democracy Foundation is newly energized by the recent important Irish vote on whether Ireland should approve the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty would bring the European Union somewhat closer to being a national entity. It establishes the first constitution for the European Union. It makes the Charter of Fundamental Rights binding on the member states (with exceptions for Britain and Poland), and establishs the post of President of the European Council, with a term of 2.5 years. The President would be chosen by the Council.
The Treaty was set to go into effect on January 1, 2009, if all 27 member nations approved it. Of the 27 nations in the European Union, only Ireland put the treaty to a popular vote. That vote, held on June 12, resulted in a “yes” vote of 752,451, and a “no” vote of 852,415. The turnout was 53%. Some of the Irish opposition came from a feeling that the proposed Constitution is not democratic enough. The consequences of the Irish referendum are momentous. Although European Union leaders are now thinking of going ahead without Ireland, the Treaty has only been ratified so far by 18 nations, and its progress has certainly been cramped by the vote. Some Europeans are arguing that the Treaty should be put to a popular vote in all EU nations, and furthermore that the voters should be able to accept or reject separate sections.
When the United States considered a Constitution in the 1780’s, each state elected delegates to a ratifying convention in that particular state. Thus the preamble to the Constitution, which starts “We the People”, is a meaningful statement, not empty rhetoric.
For more about the Lisbon Treaty, see http://eureferendum.blogspot.com.