Only a guess of course but it’s a metaphor of the situation that will face the Czech Republic on the night of 2 October when the Irish voters approve the Treaty of Lisbon at the second time of asking in a referendum.Â And they will approve it.Â The opinion polls leave some latitude as to the final margin, but even a generous assumption about the voting behaviour of the “don’t knows” doesn’t alter the prediction that it will pass.
For a number of reasons: the argument that without the EU in the crisis, we’d be like Iceland; some element of last year’s No vote that is now spooked by the idea that a 2nd no vote would be too big a 2-fingered salute to our fellow Europeans, and finally, the major political parties adoping a “first do no harm” principle in their own campaigns — meaning in particular, the ruling party Fianna Fail avoiding last year’s pitfall of irritating the pro-EuropeanLisbon opposition and their voters.
No surprise then that the discussion has already shifted to what happens after the Irish Yes.Â Enter yet again that man Vaclav Klaus.Â The big story of the informal European Council summit on Thursday was not its ostensible purpose — agreeing a common line for the G20 next week — but the revelation afterwards that caretaker technocrat Czech PM Jan Fischer told the summit that he expects more ratification problems at home once the Irish decision comes through.Â The situation was obliquely referred to by Nicolas Sarkozy in his post-summit news conference, although the import of his remarks was perhaps missed due to it being in French, not that it’s hard to understand what he said or meant —
On a eu une explication du Premier ministre tchÃ¨que, qui est un homme de grande qualitÃ© aussi, sur la situation en RÃ©publique TchÃ¨que et jâ€™ai dit clairement que si les Irlandais rÃ©pondaient oui, il nâ€™Ã©tait pas question que nous acceptions de rester dans le flou artistique avec une Europe qui nâ€™aurait pas les institutions quâ€™elle mÃ©rite en pleine crise. Et donc il faudrait en tirer les consÃ©quences. Lesquelles ? Cela sera lâ€™objet dâ€™un prochain rendez-vous.
Paraphrasing: we won’t accept Europe not having the institutions to deal with the crisis and we would have to talk about consequences.
The Sunday Times (UK) spells out the apparent Klaus plan: stall ratification until David Cameron can win an election at which point a Tory government would hold a referendum of their own.Â At least one question presented by this scenario: does David Cameron want to hold such a referendum?Â Perhaps he thinks that his European Parliament coalition of eurosceptics can ameliorate some of the more ardent anti-EU opinion in his party, though the irony there is that the enhanced powers of the parliament under Lisbon make such a grouping a more powerful instrument.Â Then again, in a situation replete with irony, having M. Sarkozy on the phone yelling at him about “consequences” might only cause Klaus to dig in further.Â Perhaps all we can say is on October 2, the Irish public will have spoken (again) but a new round of diplomacy will then begin.