Sacrificing The Will Of The People On The Altar of The Euro

Wolf Richter's picture

Wolf Richter

The Eurozone debt crisis is exacting its toll. Convoluted undemocratic taxpayer-funded bailouts of bondholders and banks designed to keep the Eurozone together can’t kick the can down the road far enough. But the price has been huge, and people have expressed their anger in massive protests. Now, these efforts are also tearing up the fabric of the 27-member European Union: the first one out may be the UK.

If offered a referendum, 56% of the British would vote for a UK exit from the EU (with 34% definitely and 22% probably). Only 30% would vote to keep the UK in the EU. It wouldn’t even be close! It would be a landslide. Thus, if it came to a referendum today, the UK, a cornerstone of the EU, would bail out.

The EU has little patience with the will of the people. In most member states, decisions such as ratification of EU treaties, scrapping one’s own currency, or bailing out holders of sovereign bonds are made by parliamentary vote. But in instances, when people were finally given a vote, they had a nasty tendency to surprise the elite—the politicians, bankers, and unelected bureaucrats that run the show.

The Lisbon Treaty, the chef d’œuvre of the EU’s political elite, was supposed to repeal existing treaties and replace them with a European Constitution that would transfer significant national sovereignty to unelected EU bureaucrats and their institutions. Negotiations started in 2001, and by 2005, a majority of member states had ratified it by parliamentary vote.

But in France, the people got an opportunity to ratify it by referendum—after parliament had passed it with 93% of the votes. What should have been a cakewalk turned into an epic battle that split the Socialist Party in two. And the people, who loved their sovereignty and wanted to hang on to it, “unexpectedly” killed the thing by a margin of 55% to 45%. In the Netherlands, a similar scenario played out. 2005 was the year that referendum became a dreadful word in the European political lexicon.

The lesson was unforgettable: don’t let the riffraff decide. Such matters should be handled by politicians, bankers, and unelected bureaucrats. And so they did damage control. Many of the measures in the failed constitution were revived as reforms in a watered-down treaty. That was in 2008. As a precaution, the uppity people in France and the Netherlands weren’t allowed to vote on it. Irish voters were, however. And they killed it. They too wanted to hang on to their sovereignty.

But then the financial crisis hit. The Irish got scared. Their banks were in trouble. The economy was going south. So the referendum was re-run after the Irish government had negotiated some concessions, and the people changed their mind (the treaty became effective December 1, 2009).

European politicians dread a referendum more than anything. It threatens their power. Early November last year, at the margin of the G-20 meeting in Cannes, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou tried to use that fear to extort more bailout money from taxpayers elsewhere. So he lobbed a single sentence with the most powerful threat he could think of: a referendum in Greece. He wanted to let the people vote on the austerity measures that would strangle them.

The threat knocked financial markets around the globe into a tailspin. The Euro plummeted. Italian and French yields spiked. It gave birth to a new word: papandemonium.

But it was dealt with swiftly. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy summoned Papandreou to a French dinner. Afterwards, a dour-faced Merkel and a grimacing Sarkozy set out to squash the referendum. They’d cut off bailout payments, they said. And for the first time, they verbalized Greece’s exit from the Eurozone. It was a tour de force.

Parliamentary chaos broke out in Greece. Politicians in Papandreou’s own party rebelled against him. He got kicked out of office. And by the time the caretaker government took over, the referendum had been buried. Politicians just hate the idea of giving people an opportunity to muck up their delicate plans that had been hashed out with such finesse behind closed doors and had been laced with beautiful side deals.

That hasn’t changed. Not even in the UK. In one of the innumerable EU ironies, Prime Minister David Cameron, like all reigning EU politicians, would do everything in his power to stymie the efforts to hold a referendum. And if unable to stop it, he’d campaign with all his might to keep the UK inside the EU, though it would alienate a big part of his own voter base and much of the public.

The British have their reasons for being leery of EU governance that is encroaching more and more on their turf. Yet the EU has united 27 countries whose people had been waging war on one another long before the concept of nation state had even been invented. In that respect, and in many other respects, the EU has been a phenomenal success. Then the debt crisis erupted. And now that family of nations is threatening to tear itself apart over the euro that has become a religious dictum, and no price is too high to save it. Read.... The Curse Of The “Irreversible” Euro.

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kikk's picture

Every british Prime minister for the last 12 years has promised a referendum on the EU and all have reneged on it. That's Cameron Brown and Blair.

The unelected guys in Brussells pull them to one side and whisper in the ear ... "Oi Tony/Gordon/Dave, what's this referendum nonsense ? Knock it on the head, there's a good chap, we are not a democracy you know." "Just look at that greek fellow, could be you if you're not careful"


Dodgy Geezer's picture

If offered a referendum, 56% of the British would vote for a UK exit from the EU (with 34% definitely and 22% probably). Only 30% would vote to keep the UK in the EU. It wouldn’t even be close! It would be a landslide. Thus, if it came to a referendum today, the UK, a cornerstone of the EU, would bail out.


That's what the polls say. If they were offered a referendum in practice, every TV station, newspaper and billboard in the country would carry a pro-euro message for the two months leading up to the vote. Each household would be bombarded with pro-euro literature, all paid for from Euro-central funds. Scandals would be unearthed, or made up, for any anti-euro politicians or commentator who was not on message. Finally, ballot papers carrying anti-euro votes would mysteriously go missing.

The UK would be treated to a typical US-type corrupt election....

Bahamas's picture

The Euro will hold for as long as the NWO élitists repute it necessary. The only reasons why it was ever created is to plunder European citizens' riches and wealth, and to enslave the most possible peolpe under unelected Eurocratic cartels.  

Bahamas's picture
  1. most Europeans don't even know what the Lisbon Treaty is
  2. The bank of England owns 16% of ECB.

N.2 ...nobody ever considers the fact that England has a much bigger monetary power just by the fact that they can control 2 central banks.

High4Life's picture

To be more precise, it's the Rothschilds who owns 16% since they practically own the bank of England since the end of the battle of Waterloo.

Bazza McKenzie's picture

End para is the usual nonsense about the EU creating peace.  It has been NATO, dominated by the US military, that has kept the peace in Europe, not the EU or the EZ.

Of course one might wonder why Europe actually needs some great institution to maintain peace when most of the rest of the world (excluding ME) manages to get along fine without it.

groundedkiwi's picture

Lets have a chart for howmany people in the west bother to vote these days?

poldark's picture

To sum it up:- the EU is an evil institution. Better off out.

falak pema's picture

you guys forget the reality of this current first world : our financial pump is totally kaput. 

So capitalism in the doldrums is heading for the abyss as the CB printing hits the asymptote; its going to make the whole system in FIRST world unsustainable.

The day Draghi got onto the print to infinity train it was over. Now its IMPOSSIBLE to decouple and all FOUR economies of First world monetary world are in DUCK soup; aka Japan, EUro, UK and USA. Its the banksta cabal that is the hundred headed hydra that suffocates them and there is no Hercules to deliver them. 

As CHina is also pegged to USD and its exports tied into Euro/US consumerista model they too are being attacked by the hundred headed hydra. The only players who are relatively financially safe are the Oil oligarchies but their structures are so politcally fragile as the current ME showdown indicates. And, they recycle their wealth ALL to the West. Duck soup indeed.

The race to the bottom will have to find resolution as the current levitation only makes the inevitable landing all the more harder.

All this BS about Farage and EUro Eunuchs is froth on the lager, the meat of the matter is elsewhere. Eurozone is now totally sucked into the monetary fascist model, and thus ruled by the inverted totalitarian heirarchy; 1% control 60% of wealth. They are the west  today and we ONLY protect their off shored wealth. 

If Lagarde says I don't have the mandate to bail out Greece,  as she is a multilateral shill with Geithner as boss but where the BRICS have an increasing share in the IMF say, she will start the dominos falling in the incredibly convoluted world of incestuous, steroid fed, integrated, ponzi banking which is the heart of the Hydra; and the weak link stays the Euro zone. 

When thieves and Oligarchs fall out behind the tinsel curtain the show turns very sour; thats for certain. 

Keep your eye on the ball, not on the fly buzzing on the wall. 

Sacrificing the will of the people on the altar of world Oligarchy construct. Corporate capitalism meets State neo-totalitarianism. Charybdis and Scylla. The nation states are asphyxiated in socialised debt. 

Jack Sheet's picture


Good one !

By the way, Jim "Domed Cranium"/the Euro will be fine" Rickards describes ZH as "vulgar".

poldark's picture

"When thieves and Oligarchs fall out behind the tinsel curtain the show turns very sour; thats for certain. "

I think that is what we are all waiting for!

No Euros please we're British's picture

The UK public can't even vote off the right person from Celebrity Big Brother. You think they'll be allowed to vote in a referendum on Europe?

poldark's picture

It is only one-brain-cell people who watch Celebrity Big Brother.

No Euros please we're British's picture

Poldark, it's those one-brain-cell people who get to vote! Imagine the consequences of the government introducing "phone-in" voting. Although, using the TV model, it would eliminate all national debt and most votes would be cast after the deadline had expired.

ebworthen's picture

The EURO will not hold, it will die, and the nations and nationalism will return.

As soon as the central banks, bankers, and politicians have raped the people enough, they will hang.

Old story.  Old meme.  It's history, and history.  "Technology" won't save us, nor the new generations.

BurningFuld's picture

Even simpler than that...this whole thing is basic mathematics.

MikeMcGspot's picture

Is this the way you want it?

Should it be this way?

Who are you and why are you here?

The answer to the ultimate question is...

Put your boots on and go to town...


dolly madison's picture

And we don't even get to wish for a referendum here in the US.

ebworthen's picture

Hey, we get to "choose" between the red pill or the blue pill which both make us vomit and have uncontrollable diarrhea; and when we awake from the chills and shakes our cash and silverware have been stolen.

Ghordius's picture

Again a propagandistic conflation of the 27 member EU and the 17 member EZ clubs sprinkled with misrepresentations

Let's hope the BriXit referendum produces some better info

Terp's picture

True, but that does not invalidate his point, no?


If ANY of the decisions regarding the EU in the last 20 years would have been made via referendums, there would be no such thing as the EU of today.

His accusations about the undemocratic nature of present day EU are spot on.

Are you shilling for the EU just for shits or are you really a fan (or financially depending on it)?

Ghordius's picture

What's wrong with being a "fan"? I disagree with your referendum assertion, btw.

BKbroiler's picture

Great f'n article

Manic by Proxy's picture

With the increasing disconnect between citizens and the unelected bureaucrats, perhaps it would be appropriate to review firearms ownership. Well, interesting only if an armed populace can potentially offer counterweight to "taxation without representation". Armed insurrection, while not assured, seems increasingly likely, on a long enough timeline.

cbxer55's picture

MOst of them do not have firearms, UN small arms treaty you know. And since B.O. has said he is going to sign it when it crosses his desk, we will soon be in the same situation.

ebworthen's picture

Plenty of ways to kill and destabalize a nation without firearms.

Enough people in the streets burning, looting, and tearing down the infrastructure and it doesn't matter how many guns the police or military have.

max2205's picture

Truer words have never been spewed forth

The deciders are and will be in charge.

q99x2's picture

When the EBT runs out I'm seceding.

sangell's picture

It does seem odd that Cameron would risk the UKIP siphoning off votes rather than co-opt them by agreeing to a referendum as he knows the EU is unpopular as are British contributions to fund it. The problem seems to be European politicians cannot resist the lure of life after their own political deaths in their own nations that the EU offers.

The US has nothing like it. A failed presidential candidate or even an ex president here faces a slow slide into obsurity but not in Europe. The provincial politician can be reborn as a colossus in some EU sinecure. A Manuel Barosso or Herman von Rompuy can achieve the kind of power and glory no Portugese or Dutch politician could ever dream of and even a Gordon Brown or Tony Blair can aspire to be President of Europe if the idiot public would only just let them build this monstrous edifice.

NoDebt's picture

Wasn't that long ago the Greek PM at the time was going to hold a referendum on the Euro..... after that was announced he was gone so fast it was almost blinding.  Papacost..... something or other.  Couldn't spell it even if I could still remember it.  Remember him?  Yeah, me neither.

What's left now for most of the "developed world" (a.k.a. "debt world") in this muddling-through period is little more than time to prepare for the shit storm. 

This is going to end in tears.  You know it.  I know it.  Certainly the powers that be know it, which is why they aren't taking any orders from the peanut gallery. 

andrewp111's picture

The UK can probably get out relatively unscathed. I say relatively, because the UK would be subjected to massive and unrelenting sanctions and punishment from the EU. But the UK is an island, is not part of the Euro, and has a nuclear arsenal. PIGS like Spain, Italy, and Greece will not be so lucky.  The secession of any of them will bring on a chain of events that drives the EU into full blown civil war. And we know what the outcome of such a civil war will be - the complete consolidation of Federal power in the EU.

Neethgie's picture

The uk will leave once we elect UKIP (farage's party)

Until then the big 3 will keep shagging us over...

groundedkiwi's picture

As if. UK will wait to be told what to do. The only way the people will win is if they start digging for victory without the government telling them to.Then again government is busy making laws that stop everyone from being self sufficient.

TruthInSunshine's picture

There's an irony here:  The entities that did the biggest damage to the global economy, and that were built up into too-big-to-fail stature with generous doling out of taxpayer subsidies by the state (as should have been expected given the political-economic dynamics at play) were of U.S. & U.K. origin, predominantly.

The U.K. & Germany have irreconcilable differences because Germany actually makes and exports true, value-added goods in large quantity and of good quality all around the globe, while the U.K. has a FIRE economy that has as its epicenter a malignant, toxic banking/financial tumor, headquartered in London, that wants to continue to metastasize to & feed off of the flesh and blood of rest of Europe, as parasitic cancers are driven to do.

VonManstein's picture

I think Farage is a needed voice in British politics. However, UKIP is an old boys club whos members just like to go fishing, the candidates they have are shit. The most recent candidate for london mayor last year could barely string a decent sentence together. He was an extremely primitve individual. As well as all this, Farage bangs on about the Evil EU being the cause of Britains problems but he never talks about the scum filled freaks that run this country and have always ran it, for hundreds of years. Blaming the EU for Britains economic and Political failings is stupid and dangerous. Yes Farage seems like a good guy, yes UKIP is populist, no, they would not fix anything.

Untill we remove the entrenched oligarchy, that are all anglophile British Empire lovers, then nothing will change.. He really pisses me off with his constant EU bollocks.

TahoeBilly2012's picture

The American Libertarian Party was considered a similar backwater as you describe UKIP. Times are changing. Ron Paul has energized a modern, educated, young faction to fight for freedom. I think you can look foward to UKIP or another party following in the footsteps of the new US freedom movement. Have faith.

Jam Akin's picture

Much as I'd love to see it be otherwise, the Libertarian Party will never win power in the US.  The main reason being that idealism is easily defeated by skullduggery.  

VonManstein's picture

Ron Paul does a much, much (much) better job. Youve seen Nigel Farage on youtube bashing EUcrats (which is highly entertaining) im sure, but have you read UKIPs manifesto? pfffffffffffffffff fucknig ridiculous. they are not credible and nor is Mr farage.

Ron Paul is in another league

old naughty's picture

Oh, ok, I am sold. Ron Paul for PM.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Adieu, mon euro...

But, it DID seem like a good idea at the time, WAS my opinion.

SafelyGraze's picture

USA deals MI, IL, OH to canada in exchange for PEI. lets AZ go (receiving early departure penalty of 20M). GA, RI, VT are traded to EU in exchange for an eastern state to be named later. CA, OR, WA, NV form their own conference.

it's just football. 

somebody had to say it