Europe after the British Referendum

Europe after the British Referendum


by Karl Müller
First it is time to congratulate and to rejoice: On 23 June 2016, over 17 million British citizens did not allow themselves be intimidated: neither by their Prime Minister Cameron, nor by their Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne; nor by Angela Merkel and Sigmar Gabriel, nor by François Hollande; not by Martin Schulz and Jean Claude Juncker, nor by Donald Tusk. Also US President Obama, the directors of the IWF and the World Bank have not been able to dissuade them from voting with a majority of almost 52% of the voters and a turnout of over 70% for the exit of their country from the European Union. This is remarkable!
All subsequent attempts to make direct democracy and the people’s decision distasteful, are just the expression of a political bankruptcy. Symbol of this bankruptcy is the German Federal President Gauck who stated after the British vote, that the current problem was no longer the elites but the populations. Obviously he wanted to avoid speaking of the “peoples”.
Gauck portrays only one of very many cacophonous public reactions to the British decision which have one thing in common: pretending that the Brits had problematically voted for their doom and the downfall of Europe – instead of doing what would be appropriate: to express them our deep respect for the fact that they are writing history – this time completely peacefully.
It should be considered completely normal, that political questions are discussed controversially and that nothing in politics is without alternative. Deciding between alternatives, which all have their pros and cons, is precisely the gist of politics. This is the essence of democracy. And this is where the citizens need to have the final say. Otherwise, there would not be a need for elections and ballots, in our modern times only for a supercomputer (over 200 years ago the Greek philosopher Platon dreamt of a rule by philosophers) which, fed with all information, would calculate the optimal decision – an absurd, inhuman idea.
It would have been advisable for those responsible in the EU and in Great Britain to be prepared for both possible outcomes of the British referendum, in order to negotiate the consequences after the decision with the necessary calm, prudence and fairness. Instead, what we are now watching reminds more of an absurdist theatre with various roles – and nobody really knows what is being played.
It is safe to assume that EU representatives are making a lot of noise because they want other peoples to be deterred from imitating the British. There are numerous statements along this line.
Unfortunately, it is also safe to assume that not all who have been participating prominently in favour of the Brexiteers, and who are coming to expression again, have only honest motives.
But why is hardly anyone listening to the 17 million anonymous British citizens, who voted for an exit from the EU for their individual reasons?
Here we would strongly recommend not to heed too much what is currently being said or written by prominent people. What we need instead, is the commitment that the British citizens’ decision is taken seriously. All responsible politicians should remember their duty: to serve their peoples, their citizens!
This, however, implies to stop all threats, all power games, to pause and to ask the question: What is necessary to make political decisions in Great Britain and in all other EU states reflect the will of the people again?
For those responsible in the EU and in the United Kingdom this also means that the modalities of the exit are negotiated in a manner doing justice both to the British and all other peoples in the EU. The public service obligation of politics forbids fostering one’s own interests at the expense of other people or peoples. The goal should be to find solutions to the benefit of all sides.
If the exit conditions for the British are too favourable, the politicians fear, that other EU countries will follow suit. Therefore, they are treating the Brexit as if it were a crime. If the EU was as attractive as they claim, it would be easy to convince other peoples of membership benefits – and to accept the British decision as well as ensuring that Britain will thrive in the future – also outside the EU. Be honest, EU officials: are you really convinced that the EU is the best for your states and peoples? Or are you hesitating yourself, when confronted openly? Can it be that you know too much – that the EU is serving other interests than those of its peoples?
The current political course against unwanted reactions from citizens towards a wrong politics is the claim that these reactions were the result of populist propaganda. The claim is: the responsible politicians are doing their best and their peoples would be willing to follow them – if it wasn’t for these populists. We say: Wouldn’t it be better for the politicians to understand their peoples’ votes as an assignment, and not, as currently practiced against the British, aggrieved and with threats, but with the highest respect fot their peoples’ will?     •

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