Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The USofE

I've always been a fan of the EU and I continue to be impressed by the progress it has made in such a short period of time. So a few months back I started reading more about the EU and it's history. To be honest with you, I was looking for the catch. Nothing is perfect. So I came across the common things you hear in the news: expansion hiccups, domination by big nations (e.g. Germany) and no unified foreign policy (e.g. the Iraq war).

The EU constitutional treaty, a treaty that was supposed to place a common constitution in Europe and instead was rejected by French and Dutch national referendums, caught my attention. Something about it seemed fishy. Reading more about it, turns out it was pretty comprehensive, the Eurocrats wanted to go for 99.9% but that was too much so the voters rejected it. What happened next was an elaborate plan, the EU leaders signed the Lisbon treaty which is basically 80% of the constitutional treaty (calling for a permanent EU president among other things), but did it in a clever way that makes it ratifiable (if that's a word) by the national parliaments, except in Ireland, so that they don't risk another No.

Here's a story from Egypt: our constitution didn't have popular vote for the office of president. The way it worked was for the national parliament to nominate and vote for president. If the nominee didn't get a certain majority, I believe they had to repeat the procedure and if it's still the same issue then they go to popular vote. Growing-up I always saw the president getting 99.9%. In 2005, this changed due to various internal and external forces and the presidential vote became a popular one. The president won by 88%, after he had to run a campaign and explain his 6-year plan and run commercials in the TV. Something which didn't happen before.

See, it would be wrong of me to compare the EU to Egypt, clearly Egypt has a lot to learn from the EU. But it's a disturbing thought that wherever you live, even if in some of the most democratic countries in the world, all votes can be equal but some will always be more equal than others. Be it the Eurocrats or the ruling party's old guards.

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