- 20 Jun 01
After the referendum, the abiding impression is of confusion, apathy and vague anti-government malaise
Well, you can’t take much for granted these days, if anything. The last weeks gave the democratic process a right good shake in these islands. The two big ones were the referendum on the Treaty of Nice in Ireland and the UK general election, and particularly the results from Northern Ireland.
Let’s take Nice first. The proposal to change the Constitution was rejected, pretty decisively. All manner of claims have followed. Both sides have overstated their case. The abiding impression now is of confusion and apathy and a vague anti-governmental malaise. Nothing specific.
You can see this in the abstentions and spoiled votes. Lots of people have complained about the time scale for the decision, and the lack of clarity. Well, there are few justifications for abstention. We purport to live in a democracy, and three quarters of the population of the island live in a Republic. The whole concept of a republic is based on citizens understanding, accepting and discharging their obligations to their fellow citizens.