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Seehofer calls for people's vote on euro

The Local · 12 Feb 2012, 11:04

Published: 12 Feb 2012 11:04 GMT+01:00

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The “Grundgesetz” guarantees citizens essential rights, the CSU chief said in an interview with the newspaper Welt am Sonntag. The CSU is the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union party.

Seehofer told the paper that the law says “all of the state power comes from the people.” The law allows for votes and referendums, but referendums are allowed for only two reasons: when deciding about a new division of the German states or whether the basic law should be changed by a new one, the paper wrote.

Since the Federal Republic was founded in 1949, there has never been such a German-wide referendum.

The opposition Social Democratic Party and the Greens have long called for more direct democracy, something Merkel's government has continuously rejected. But now Seehofer is calling for such an element to be written into the constitution, the paper wrote.

He doesn’t want significant decisions in European policy to be decided by the German parliament alone.

“The CSU is for a people’s vote in Germany over the basic questions about Europe. That’s a good path to bring the European idea closer to citizens,” Seehofer told the paper. The instrument of a people’s referendum should be anchored in the German constitution, he told the paper.

A week ago the Ferdinand Kirchof, the vice president of the Federal Constitutional Court, told the paper that Germany “finally needs a direct democracy in the EU,” saying Brussels had distanced itself from European Union citizens and from the home regions comprising the EU.

Seehofer rejected the widespread view that if there had been a people’s vote, the euro would never have been introduced.

“I don’t agree with that notion,” Seehofer told the paper. “Unpopular decisions have a chance to be approved by citizens. You have to make the effort to explain why and be transparent about it. People are smart enough even to vote on difficult questions.”

Referendum skeptics say key decisions, like the rearmament of Germany, its East Bloc policy and the unification of the country, would not have been possible if a people’s vote had been in place.

Seehofer said a people’s vote is needed when a certain level of financial backing is made for the euro deficit countries. “I think it is very important to allow citizens to have this control over power.”

Story continues below…

European Parliament President Martin Schulz agrees there should be more direct democracy for EU citizens, but notes that the CDU and CSU have not been in favor of this.

“I wonder when it comes to Europe how some are in favor of a referendum when they have until now always prevented that from happening on a national basis.”

The Local/mw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:37 February 12, 2012 by derExDeutsche
As many here have pointed out, the Greeks, for whatever reason, greed, corruption, are incapable of a functioning Democracy. You say, they need Germany to come in a 'clean house'. Well, the Greeks aren't the only ones living beyond their means. And they are also not the only ones who have elected Politicians who promise just enough more money, public services, pensions, etc., than the last guy. In fact, that sounds like just about every country in Europe. It sounds like most people here are saying that these countries are just incapable of a lasting Democracy. Default/Bankruptcy would just allow these problems to start all over again. These people are incapable of learning from their mistakes, and are incapable of Democracy. Well, there you have it. Democracy does not work in Europe. I guess Germany just needs to take control of all these countries and install its own hand picked leaders. You know, for these countries own good.
14:03 February 12, 2012 by murka
In the past I naively thought that Mr Seehofer genuinely believes in his ideas. Now I think he consciously chose to ripe political points from the bigoted part of the Bavarian electorate. I hope his colleagues are capable to give him a proper wake up kick.
14:40 February 12, 2012 by Englishted
I have read and then re-read this report ,and am sorry @derExDeutsche

I simply don't understand your comment , are you advocating a return to totalitarianism or even Nazism or deep dark irony (I hope)

Back to the report I agree with Horst Seehofer (not something I can normally write)

but I fear it is too late the E.U. is and has been riding roughshod over democracy for many years and will be hard to push back.

I wanted a say on expansion but no country was given it .

Many countries German included was not given a vote on the introduction of the €uro or it's continuing bail out .

When there was a vote as in Ireland they did it over again till they voted the "correct " way.

Many more countries would have rejected theMaastricht treaty ,only to see it brought in by the back door with no country having a vote.

Democracy is in retreat in Europe following a fiscal crisis bringing echos of the 1930's we must not let it happen again.
16:16 February 12, 2012 by TheCrownPrince
As usual, one could think that Horst Seehofer has sporadically taken leave of his senses coming up with such nonsense. However, he is a cunning politician, so the only reason for his approach is winning some sympathy for him and the good ol' CSU. He certainly knows that his proposal will never be executed, because there is no chance of getting the necessary majority in the parliament for changing the constitution. There are good reasons that the Grundgesetz only allows referenda in few, limited cases. One reason for example is the fact that asking the "people" usually turns out to be a bad idea, because most voters can't tell "Left" apart from "Right", let alone grasp the consequences of important decisions concerning the Euro or other comparable issues of gravity. Therefore, there are elected representatives to decide for them after carefully weighing all arguments in debate and being counseled by experts. Please, keep the fingers of the mob from complex matters!
16:30 February 12, 2012 by derExDeutsche
I am being snarky and ironic. I am playing the devils advocate, and going along with German politicians, and quite a few local.de readers assessment and plan for the EU. Are you suggesting that German Politicians and thelocal.de readers are Nazis or deeply darkly ironic? Because surely, quite a few would, at least in part, agree with my first post.
16:50 February 12, 2012 by Bushdiver
Too late now. The option to vote on switching to the Euro should have beeb there when the Euro was chosen. The way I see it the Euro did nothing for the ordinary citizen except double prices on everything and cut wages nearly in half. The only people that profited from the introduction of the Euro was big businesses and banks. The damage has already been done. It makes no difference now if they went back to the DM.
17:37 February 12, 2012 by jmclewis
Just break the EU and allow the people better local control of their chosen leaders. It is not just for Germans to help finance the farce that Greece is.
22:25 February 12, 2012 by Englishted

Yes some would have and sadly some still agree with your first post.

German politicians had their collective irony removed on election and had it replaced with complete contempt for anyone in fact everyone,much the same as politicians world wide it seems now days at least.

Was it ever so?
10:05 February 13, 2012 by ChrisRea
Theoretically, referenda means more democracy. However, practice has shown that they are not necessarily good.

First, let's not forget that Hitler (1936) and Mussolini (1934) successfully used referenda to take advantage of their ability to manipulate masses.

Secondly, Switzerland, the country with 3-4 referenda each year and a referendum system since 1848, has one of the most retrograde politics in the Western world. Leaving aside the numerous contempts for general human rights, Switzerland is the last Western republic to allow women to vote. The last canton to grant women's suffrage did that only in 1991 (yes, that means that women were not allowed to vote there 25 years ago).

Thirdly, he have the example of California with its 'Ballot-box budgeting' which made it practically ungovernable in 2009. http://www.economist.com/node/13649050?STORY_ID=13649050

British Conservative politician Chris Patten, the last Governor of British Hong Kong, said: ' ... if you have a referendum on an issue politicians during an election campaign say oh we're not going to talk about that, we don't need to talk about that, that's all for the referendum. So during the last election campaign the euro was hardly debated. I think referendums are fundamentally anti-democratic in our system and I wouldn't have anything to do with them. On the whole, governments only concede them when governments are weak'.

Referenda means leaving aside the representative democracy and using direct democracy. Maybe it is worth to recall that it was James Madison who said that direct democracy is 'tyranny of the majority'.

So I would say that before agreeing to more referenda, we should first have a very thorough debate about this.
16:01 February 13, 2012 by raandy
There is an excellent article about this subject Direct Democracy in Germany.

by by Ralph Kampwirth

at http://www.iniref.org/germany.html
19:51 February 13, 2012 by Englishted

So which party did I vote for that said they would expand the E.U.

And why has no country been given a vote on the treaty that followed Maastricht,

I know you are right on some points but the Swiss one is a red herring ,they didn't join the U.N. till recently either and it is implied that you believe people have not learned from the past in Germany.

Direct democracy is by no means perfect but it is a lot better the the democracy the E.U. countries are using at the moment which is none.
20:53 February 13, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Englishted

I am sorry, I cannot tell you which party you voted for.

If your second question is about referenda to be organised in connection with the EU, I can tell you that the national laws of each country did not require that.

The Swiss example is no red herring - it is recent history that shows how retrograde decisions are brought by direct democracy.

If the democracy within EU is so bad as you say, why do countries still want to join the EU?
21:13 February 13, 2012 by GGN
Has anyone ever compared the standard of living of the AVERAGE American to a German? EU plan was manipulated into a mammoth it was never intended to be, has raped you of everything you owned and will own(future). Has socially engineered your society to the political correctness point of Big Brother....and once they have your wealth??? Merkle didn't control this wider reorganization of the international banking system. Who did? Why can't you see whats BEHIND the forest and the trees...she's fighting like crazy to hang onto any leftover control mechanisms in the arrsinel after the Chaos was created and the politics of common currency was used to divert attention away from money mafia. What's that?!? I better watch what is said as citizens no longer have freedom or freedom of speech, association etc.??? Pour, Literal Acre-pherde, you are the centre of a drama you cannot yet see clearly.
11:31 February 14, 2012 by christopheuk25
Finally, many "Europeans" are starting to realise what a controlling cesspit of corruption the EU is and the slimy politicians who want this abortion to continue so they can maintain control.

Unfortunately for the slime balls the natives are now revolting and in this year 2012 i think all hell will break loose throughtout Europe.

Strange that threats are made against one country at a time to bring them into line.

Why are no threats made against the pauperised country of Portugal anything to do with a certain reptile called Barrouso?
15:08 February 14, 2012 by jg.
"Therefore, there are elected representatives to decide for them after carefully weighing all arguments in debate and being counseled by experts. Please, keep the fingers of the mob from complex matters!"

I hope you are joking but if not, that is really scary - it is the sort of thing one might expect to hear from a representative of the Chinese government. The very fact that we are now deep in a credit crisis shows how the elected representatives and their "experts" have been so wrong - about economic growth, spending, borrowing and both the concept and implementation of the single currency.
17:39 February 14, 2012 by Englishted

1: O.K. which party would give a vote on expansion ?.

2: The Irish constitution requires a referendum on any treaty change which why the "new" agreement is not called a treaty but is a treaty by any other name.

3: How arrogant is your statement that the Swiss voted a why you dislike so they made " retrograde decisions" . Same as the Greeks voted a leader but the E.U. knows better.

4: How many of the new members and those wishing to join are what can be called established democracies?

They see the E.U. as it was a money cow waiting to be milked ,and have little or no interest in rocking the boat till it is empty .
19:39 February 14, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Englishted

1. Except for extreme left/right parties, I believe all German parties would vote for expansion of EU by including Croatia (the next candidate).

2. The Irish overwhelmingly supported the Lisbon Treaty in the referendum of 2008. It was not a close call, it was a strong support towards EU.

3. Yes, it might be arrogant from me to believe that women deserve to have the right to vote. I guess you would call the several refusals to grant Swiss women's suffrage a progressive attitude. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.

4. All new members and also the next candidate are established functioning democracies (unless you would like to use your own definition and ignore the commonly agreed one).
19:46 February 14, 2012 by Whipmanager
Chris Rea: Brother to Gonnor and dia:

Your supposition about why so many countries want to be a part of the EU has a very simple answer- it is the same reason that so many fleas of the world wish to be a member of the UN- They wish to take part as the Rich will carry them and their poor fiscal policies, and they wish to have a say at the adult table, and since they are irrelevant, they can't without numbers.

They gather at the feeding trough, not bringing anything to the party, and basically wish to have everything equal, even though they do not have anything of value to the community to offer.

Germany, france and GB. that is the money of the EU. The british have been very smart in not committing to teh EURO, as they knew that tying themselves to that weight would be suicide. They had no problem with having the rest of europe follow while they stood by the side, why is that?

My frenemy, old money is all connected. You can have your euro, me my dollar, teh ruskies their rubles, but if you watch what the true rich do, you will note they don't play around with paper. They are invested in Metals and the system that makes everyone a slave and themselves rich. Interest on interest, taxes and tax breaks, that is their true power. Merkle, Sarkozy, Obama, all are puppets to unseen people who make the real decisions.
22:24 February 14, 2012 by Englishted

1:How do you know as no party I have seen has said for or against .

That is the problem.

2: Ireland voted against but this vote was not accepted by the E.U. so there was a second vote with a increase in threats and pressure from the free press and the powers that had something to lose with a no vote.

I would love to know how many election they would have been made to have to get the result without the pressure.

3: No you are wrong I believe in universal suffrage, but that is only one example what other examples of votes against human rights can you produce ,but again who says you have the right to impose your opinion on a people that are"entitled to his/her opinion".

4:Why would any country want to join the E.U. unless they believed there was something to gain and that is not democracy or do you really believe that the E.U. is democratic?
23:43 February 14, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Englishted

1. If you have not seen, it does not mean that it is not so, but that you do not know much about German politics in this regard. Run a Google search and you will find out. Given the limit imposed by this website, here are two articles you might want to read:



2. If it would have been a close call, you might have been right. However, given the scores, it can be seen that the result of the first referendum was strongly influenced by the lack of voters (45% first time presence, 58% second time presence; first time 53.4% voted against, second time 67.1% voted for). So it is actually a good example of how a referendum can produce different results depending on how many people come to vote.

3. I guess freely exercising one's religion does not count for you as a human right, right?

4. European Parliament is made of representatives elected by people. I think this is the core of any representative democracy. Is democracy in your country exercised in a different way?
08:06 February 15, 2012 by Englishted

2: Yes you are right but all votes are effected by turnout, my point is that the higher turnout in Ireland was brought about by threats and intimidation.

3:There was not a vote on not allowing freedom of worship and you know that as well as I do ,it was about limiting the building of places of worship and there size,but do you believe that anyone should have the right to build anything of any size and override the wishes of the majority simple by using religion.

Who human right are affected then ?.

4: Stop trying to pull the wool over our eyes ,the E.U. parliament has very little power ,the power lies in the council of ministers a none elected appointed body.
09:01 February 15, 2012 by ChrisRea
I am glad we clarified point number 1. Let's see the rest.

2. How exactly were they threatened and intimidated? If I would have been an Irish with a voting right, what would it happened to me if I would have not voted or voted against? I think that's not a serious claim.

3. They did not ban buildings of a certain size - they had a problem with the function of the building. If on my property I want to build a temple for the religion I founded, why on earth should I not be allowed to?

4. Apparently Professor David Farrell, Head of the School of Social Sciences at The University of Manchester disagrees with you: "The EP is now one of the most powerful legislatures in the world both in terms of its legislative and executive oversight powers." Let's see what it means: it has equal legislative and budgetary powers as the Council, elects the President of the Commission and approves the Commission as a whole (and it has the power to force them to resign through a motion of censure). I would say this is quite powerful, just as Professor Farrell said. I wonder what do you miss.
22:20 February 15, 2012 by Whipmanager
My POV, which means nothing: The EU Parliament is not an elected body. The people of Europe have removed themselves from direct representation at the EU level. Historically, the politicians that are voted into power, are not very responsive to their constituencies. They get voted in and in many cases if not most or all, they do what they want or think the constituent wants- but rarely do they ask. The power from the EU was Usurped and was not granted directly by the people. representative Democracy works at a local level but does not work well when it is at a global or national level.

CHRIS REA: Your points are pretty circular. The press reports on things as they see fit, an article written by a member of the press is not necessarily well researched, and most likely is more about feelings than fact. Next, you quote Professor Farrell. If I wanted to present a view favorable to my opinion, as a writer, I will choose a professor, of some repute, to say waht I want him to say. Who sponsored the articles that you present as evidence? Is it representing both sides of an argument or one?

Next: If yo uuse the british Professors, than I guess anything we have learned over the last year plus about Global warming, a product of British professors and other tree huggers can be discounted? They had PHDs, they had stature, and they had the ear of the press and they duped the world.
07:18 February 16, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Whipmanager

'The EU Parliament is not an elected body. ' - well, that says a lot about how much your POVs have to do with reality. EU Parliament members being elected is a fact, not a matter of opinion/discussion. Or do you claim that they are appointed?

Do you claim that the articles I mentioned do not reflect correctly the statements made by the cited politicians? Can you support your statements with specific arguments or is it just hot air that you blow?

Do you have proofs that Professor Farrell's opinion was biased? Then put them on the table, otherwise your allegations are not more than just fantasies. Can you give the example of an other professor that claimed the opposite? I guess not. I chose Professor Farrell also because he is British (UK is known of not being very co-operative within the EU).

However, more important is how the European Parliament works. As explained above, it has the same relation with the executive power as most parliaments in the world. That makes EU a representative democracy.
17:42 February 16, 2012 by Whipmanager
Herr Rea: As stated in my previous posting, your arguments are circular. You state a professor gave an opinion, you quoted the professor as the article presented your argument. Instead of answering if the article was biased, and showing that it was balanced, you tell me to show proof. You are the typical left wing idiot that is strangling this world with its attempt to bring about an equal hell through left wing politics. We will all be poor and sad, and equal, and so the world will be better.

I tell you that your existance in this world is a plague on us all. You are dangerous, and sick. Your inability to address questions asked of you, and your incredible ability to blow steam and misdirect the argument show you have no brains, no intellect, and are a whiney, cowardly sick person who is truly in need of psychological support.

My main point in my POV is that the further away from teh electorate a politician is the less responsive to that constituency the politician will be. You cannot argue that away. You cannot disown the fact that you use a couple of articles that are biased, to make your argument. You are pathetic, and people like you will bring down the last shreds of integrity in the name of what you FEEL is right as opposed to what is right. May the GOD that you don't really believe in really help you.
18:03 February 16, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ Whipmanager

You really made my day! I got a good laugh reading your latest post, just like when I was amused by the idiocy of George W. Bush.

What is leftist in my post? Do you actually know the difference between left and right?

Apparently you have no clue of how European elections are organised. The European Parliament members are elected directly by the European citizens. It cannot get closer to the electorate than that.
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