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Most Germans want public vote on euro issues, survey says

The Local · 6 Nov 2011, 10:51

Published: 06 Nov 2011 10:51 GMT+01:00

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In a survey for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, polling company Emnid found that only 27 percent of Germans were against the idea of letting voters participate in direct ballots on eurozone issues, while nearly three-quarters were in favour.

Demonstrators in Stuttgart, Munich and Cologne took to the streets on Saturday to demand more direct democracy in Germany, including the right to vote on the future of the euro.

But Bundestag president Norbert Lammert, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, told newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau that decisions over tax and budget issues, as well as the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), should not be subject to public referendums.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou caused an uproar last week by announcing that Athens would hold a public referendum over a bailout deal struck by EU leaders in Brussels.

Under pressure from European leaders, he cancelled the vote shortly afterwards.

As the Greek debt crisis wears on, many Germans question whether Athens will be able to put its financial house in order. According to the Emnid poll, 63 percent of those surveyed believe that Greece will have to leave the eurozone.

Story continues below…

The Local/DAPD/arp

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:08 November 6, 2011 by ovalle3.14
Come on folks, this is Germany: the populace has no right to vote directly on issues like this (how dare you even thinking you know enough to decide?).
11:34 November 6, 2011 by puisoh
It is really a farcry from Switzerland, whereby its volks get to vote even whether to build on massive tunnels that takes over 3 decades and still going on ...( ala the Germans's version of Stuttgart 21) and banning of Minarets .... the know-everything-better-attitude combine with the vanity of the politicians will put years of hardship ahead for its citizens, Germany or not.

The fact that public projects budget get blown out of proportion all the time (Elbphilharmonie is one of many examples) should wake up its people on educating their politicians on how to be accountable for their spendings.

By the time they reach the stage like in the US, paying USD16 a muffin ordered for a state meeting, it would be too late.

Look at the latest G20 meetings, millions are spend on gathering these so-called leaders together, and what did they achieve?? NOTHING! NOTHING!!! It is apalling! Talk is cheap.

Where have all the good old values gone??

Naja, so much for 'Das Wort zum Sonntag!'
14:24 November 6, 2011 by Englishted
Plebiscites were banned in Germany following Hitler's misuse of them to gain power before WW2.

The world knows Germany has moved on from it's dark past and should be allowed to vote in these again.

One problem remains however the politicians don't want democracy in Europe look what happened in the constitution vote, the U.K. has been wanting one for years but still waits,Greece is threatened to stop them,Ireland was made to vote again and again till they got it "right".

I am beginning to think taking to the streets and or occupying is the only thing the powers that be understand.
15:01 November 6, 2011 by murka
Personally, I don't think a public vote on Euro is a good idea. Most of Germans have a negative connotation of everything with the word "Ausland" in it, the outcome is predictable.

As a largest exporter Germany profits from the common currency, look at the disturbingly shining numbers and projections amidst all the crisis. Unfortunately the topic is so politically incorrect, no politician in their right mind would touch it in public.
16:59 November 6, 2011 by twisted
Politicians hate referendums because good decision might come out of the vote, thereby making the politicians look silly and worthless (which most of them are in any case). On the other hand, many issues are pretty damn complicated and one needs to have a good staff of people to research the subject and help explain it to the voting politician. Still, the end result is still mostly wrong. In the end, politicians vote for what is best for them, not for the country.
20:46 November 6, 2011 by jg.
Murka: "Most of Germans have a negative connotation of everything with the word "Ausland" in it, the outcome is predictable."

Yeah, that's the problem with democracy: policies that most of the electorate want, instead of those chosen by an elite who know what's best for the proletariat.

"As a largest exporter Germany profits from the common currency..."

Germany was already a major exporter before the advent of the single currency and they have now agreed (at G20) to "address trade imbalances", as part of the measures to help financial problems in the Eurozone and elsewhere.
21:29 November 6, 2011 by flipinwotsit
Firstly, unfortunatly we elect politicians to make decisions for us because the presumably know it better than us...

Secondly, why doesn´t Greece sell south Cyprus to the Turks? It must be worth a bit of dosh and the Turks would be delighted...lol.
22:57 November 6, 2011 by murka
jg: I don't disagree, however apart from the bigots, even reasonable people are kept uninformed about Germany's dependency on Euro. No politician would openly admit that Germany profits from it's economic hegemony in the Eurozone.

Given the trade surplus, if Germany drops the Euro, its currency (Deutschmark?) will raise and its export oriented economy shrink (see Japan), even if it might remain a major exporter.

The current situation is good for Germany, it can accumulate Euro without systematic re-distribution, plus the exchange rate is low, thanks to Greece and friends. Some occasional re-distribution in form of bailouts does not hurt (see how quickly Merkel agreed to everything), however the public is irritated, they believe that this cheap cash belongs to them.
08:41 November 7, 2011 by catjones
Oh yes, the virtuous 'common man' theory. Surely your neighbor has the education and desire to make laws and run the government. Which decisions should he make? The BIG ones, the small ones, all of them? And since your neighbor sees discrete decisions, what happens when one decision cancels out a different decision, or makes one worse? Who do we blame then?

All the commentators here could easily decide global warming issues, financial structures and policies, zoning restrictions and helmet laws. It's easy.
11:29 November 7, 2011 by jg.
@catjones "Surely your neighbor has the education and desire to make laws and run the government.""

Politicians may have the requisite desires but most lack qualifications and experience in law, finance, economics, trade, industry, health, defence etc. - and many of them have never worked outside of politics. They rely on the advice from the public sector employees in their respective ministries, many of whom have also, never worked "in the real world". A cross section of my neighbours are at least as qualified as an average politician, working in a cross section of public or private sector and a variety of sectors, trades, professions, etc.

Whilst democracy may be less efficient than rule by monarchs, dictators or elitist committees, the latter forms of government have all been tested and thoroughly discredited.
11:52 November 7, 2011 by catjones
@jg...and how do you propose you and your neighbors access those 'respective ministries' to gather the info? Call them up? Mail in questions? Oops, wrong ministry. Try again. The real world is a bit more complicated than your imagination.
13:19 November 7, 2011 by iniref
Englishted wrote:

"Plebiscites were banned in Germany following Hitler's misuse of them to gain power before WW2.

The world knows Germany has moved on from it's dark past and should be allowed to vote in these again."

Certainly, a mixed system of direct and indirect (representative) democracy is the best way to govern a country or alliance. For UK and its countries, Englishted, proposals to improve our democracy along these lines may be found at http://www.iniref.org

Your introductory sentence contains a widespread misapprehension, a myth which has been cultivated by opponents of modern democracy. There is no justification at all for restricting participatory democracy because of experience with plebiscites held in the Weimar Republic and Nazi period.

From our conference report (re. Germany)

"In the Weimar Republic, there were three popular initiatives and two national referendums (in 1926 and 1929); during the National Socialist period, three plebiscites were held, with biased questions and blatant manipulation of results."

Direct democracy conference London, LSE October 16-17 2004


Direct democracy did not help the National Socialist party to seize power.

In recent years serious scholars have investigated this area. Prof. Otmar Jung (Berlin) studied reasons for exclusion of country-wide direct democracy from the "basic law", passed soon after World War II. He argues that the main aim of the "mothers and father of constitution" was to prevent the left wing from achieving gains via referendum.
15:13 November 7, 2011 by Englishted

You say "Direct democracy did not help the National Socialist party to seize power."

Well what about the the plebiscite of 1934 .

"On August 19, about 95 percent of registered voters in Germany went to the polls and gave Hitler 38 million votes of approval (90 percent of the vote). Thus Adolf Hitler could claim he was Führer of the German nation by direct will of the people. Hitler now wielded absolute power in Germany, beyond that of any previous traditional head of state"

After WW2 the may have been a move to stop the left but that was only with hindsight ,following the Nazi's use of them before the war.
15:54 November 7, 2011 by iniref
Englishted wrote:

"You say "Direct democracy did not help the National Socialist party to seize power."

Well what about the the plebiscite of 1934 ."

Did not the Nazi party seize power in 1933?

And after that, what credibility did any public ballot have?

If you really want to find out more about the role of direct democracy in this period of history then please look at Otmar Jung's work.
19:08 November 7, 2011 by Englishted

"Did not the Nazi party seize power in 1933?"

Yes but their consolidation of power was reinforced by plebiscites,

would they have used these if they thought them not necessary?

Naturally public ballots tend to have no credibility in one party states and that has not changed nor ever will.
22:23 November 7, 2011 by iniref
Englishted wrote, "Naturally public ballots tend to have no credibility in one party states and that has not changed nor ever will."

Even in "representative" democratic states we (at iniref.org) are in general not in favour of plebiscites imposed by an authority, "from above". Too often these have been used to manipulate the electorate, or to solve some dispute within the ruling group. The citizen-instigated proposition and binding referendum are much more valuable with regard to good governance.

A reply to your earlier post:

Englishted wrote:

"After WW2 the may have been a move to stop the left but that was only with hindsight ,following the Nazi's use of them before the war."

In fact the post-WWII Basic Law (initially written for the FRG) does not exclude citizen-initiated referendum. It says (roughly):

All (political) power belongs to the people. This power shall be exercised in elections and referenda (Abstimmungen).

But only one application of direct democracy was explicitly included, concerning territory. The so-called prevailing legal opinion to date is that, to introduce citizens' referendum CIR for the state (already there is CIR in the Laender, towns, cities etc.) a super majority is required. Since the 1950s the right-wing parties have blocked the introduction of CIR, even though on occasion there was a simple majority of elected MPs in favour.
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