So it looks like the EU's constitution might have run up against an iceberg. According to a report from Paris in The Weekly Standard, French President Jacques Chirac may have overplayed his EU card by allowing the French people to decide by referendum whether or not they wish to ratify the French-authored, 448-article EU constitution. Opinion polls taken in mid-April indicate that 56 percent of French voters now oppose the constitution which they are set to vote on in late May.
According to the report, French opposition to the constitution is based on a combination of economic populism and general distaste for the entire project ? one which diminishes their national sovereignty and puts them under the control of people they dislike and distrust.
If this negative trend is not reversed, it seems that the French voters will reject the plans of the nonelected European bureaucratic elite that have been more or less pushing through the program of European unification for the past few decades without public oversight. That is, the European elite, in progressing to their post-nationalist (and anti-American) dream regime of multinational elites writing treaties and regulations and hatching plots together in Brussels, may actually suffer the consequences of cutting themselves off from the people in whose name they purport to be working.
The most striking aspect of this turn of events is that it reminds us what it means to live in a democratically governed society. It means that when elections are free and fair and direct, the leaders of any particular government are supposed to reflect the collective will of their people and that the policies of a democratically elected government will, at the end of the day, be a reflection of the self-interests of the community of voters that make up its society. If, as the West has for the past 400 or so years, the citizens of a country are considered rational actors, then the result of elections should be the emergence and development of peaceful, non-revolutionary, wealth-creating societies.
In countries where elections are corrupted ? either by non-direct electoral processes or by regimes that organize them in a manner that prevent the people from exercising an authentic free choice ? the connection between the governed and their leaders becomes attenuated and the policies of the government will not be informed necessarily by the interest of the people.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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