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British Brinkmanship and Gaelic Games: Referendums as the new Normal? Imelda Maher 1 UACES Cork 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "British Brinkmanship and Gaelic Games: Referendums as the new Normal? Imelda Maher 1 UACES Cork 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 British Brinkmanship and Gaelic Games: Referendums as the new Normal? Imelda Maher 1 UACES Cork 2014

2 Topic/Approach/Aim Treaty ratification in the UK and Ireland Law and Politics Explore the role of constitutional law as a (political) opportunity structure Szczwerbiak & Taggart, 2008; Maher & Hodson,

3 Dermot Hodson and Imelda Maher ‘ British Brinkmanship and Gaelic Games: EU Treaty Ratification in the UK and Ireland from a Two Level Game Perspective’, BJPIR, Early View (2013) ‘Euroscepticism and Constitutional Law: Comparing Organised Opposition to the EU in Ireland and the UK’ in New Dimensions in Euroscepticism and Opposition to the EU S. Usherwood, N. Startin, S. Guerra (eds) EE

4 EU Treaty Trends Increased recourse to Treaty revision (revisions + accessions + intergovernmental) Now three revision procedures under Lisbon: – Ordinary – Possible convention – Simplified but note unanimity at EU level remains (Closa, 2013) 4

5 EU Treaty Trends at National Level 1.Greater role for national parliaments 2.More referendum locks e.g. Denmark, France, Ireland, Portugal, Slovakia, UK 3.Courts more involved in ratification processes 12 Lisbon cases Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom And EUCJ brought into the Treaty revision in C-370/12 Pringle 5

6 Two-level Legitimacy Approach Approach challenges Putnam (1988) view that governments have a privileged position in two-level game Concerns re EU legitimacy and democracy lead to (further) constitutionalisation of new forms of legitimacy in MS 6

7 Legitimacy Procedural legitimacy Persuasion Action linked to values, including trust Ostram, 1998; Keohane, 2001 Keohane 2001; Ostram,

8 Trust Fragile, dynamic, constant renewal Institutionalised distrust i.e. public actors called to account for trust invested in them (Braithwaite, 1998) Q: How is the virtuous cycle of trust created/ undermined through EU ratification processes? 8

9 How does this analysis translate to the treaty ratification experience of UK and Ireland? 9

10 EU Act 2011 – UK Tying Hands? 10

11 Hands Tied 1.Increased Parliamentary oversight 2.Increased scope for judicial review 3.Qualified commitment re referendum 11

12 Effects 1.Frustration for organised EU opponents (Bill Cash MP amendment to 2011 Act within 2 mths) Image: Michael Crabtree: Reuters 12

13 Effects Increased campaign for in-out referendum and Cameron’s post-2015 election promise Picture: China Daily 13

14 Effects Increased risk of voluntary defection (Putnam) Also increased risk of other MS ‘walking away’ and refusing concessions Hence Cameron fails to secure SEM concessions on Fiscal Compact Treaty with MS going ahead without UK (and Czech Republic) 14

15 Ireland Crotty (1987) Image: Irishcentral.com 15

16 Referendum required where changes go beyond essential scope or objectives of the EU Very low threshold as it applied to foreign policy cooperation Legally risky NOT to hold referendum (but see Pringle, 2012) Supreme Court final arbiter of relationship between the constitution, the EU, the people and the government 16

17 DateTreatyYes (%)No (%)ResultTurnout 10 May 1973 (3 rd )Accession Accepted70.88 % 26 May 1987 (10 th ) Single European Act Accepted44.09% 18 June 1992 (11 th ) Maastricht Accepted57.31% 22 May 1998 (18 th ) Amsterdam Accepted56.20% 7 June 2001 (26 th ) Nice Rejected34.79% 19 October 2002 (26 th ) Nice Accepted49.47% 12 June 2008 (28 th ) Treaty of Lisbon Rejected53.13% 2 October 2009 (28 th ) Treaty of Lisbon Accepted59.00% 27 June 2012 (30 th ) Stability Treaty EMU Accepted50.53% Irish Referenda on EU Treaty Changes,

18 Incomplete Info at Level 1 Difficult to anticipate national sticking points Main issues in Ireland – Sovereignty – Neutrality – Social issues Ireland: soft euroscepticism (Laffan & O’Mahony, 2008) Note: All voting citizens have standing in court 18

19 Main issue is NOT whether or not there will be a referendum (cf Pringle) but how and what information is provided 19

20 Role of Courts Framing public discourse on referendum No public funding But government can provide impartial, general information and Argue its own position Equal broadcast time ‘Material affect’ required to annul referendum Cases (McKenna, no ) (Doherty, 2012) (McCrystal, 2012) (Coughlan, 2000) (Hanafin, 1996, confirmed in Jordan, 2014 (on appeal)) 20

21 The public would be repulsed by the ‘terse and almost incomprehensible verbiage of the lawyer’ Hogan J. in Doherty

22 Effects Referendums common – but not in/out votes Sharp distinction between parliamentary and referendum phase Referendum Commission ad hoc ‘Bitty’ constitutional provision (cf affirmation of commitment to EU in Lisbon amendment) Judicial review accessible 22

23 Effects II Re-runs less likely in the future? Higher levels of popular and parliamentary support for EU in Ireland make possibility of walk away by other MS less likely than for the UK. 23

24 Conclusion I Risk of partial defection and treaty failure grows greater Political strategies for ratification are essential (Closa, 2013) But note significance of legal context in shaping/limiting/providing opportunities for those strategies 24

25 Conclusion II Two-level legitimacy in underpinned by unanimity at EU level At national level there seems to be augmented roles for parliament, courts and people in treaty ratification processes driven by a need for greater legitimacy further increasing uncertainty around ratification. 25


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