Thursday, 30 June 2016

One-time referendum may not be a good reading of the people's will on matters of great import

Here's a strongly critical of the Brexit referendum op-ed article in The Hindu by a former professor of Political Science in Delhi university, How to read the popular will, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/how-to-read-the-popular-will/article8784944.ece, dated June 29th 2016

A short extract from it:

One-time referendums aren’t enough to decide matters of great import. That is why democratic constitutionalism institutionalises checks and balances.

Decisions that profoundly affect not only the present but also succeeding generations, should not be taken in a rush, or through one-time referendums. This is basic political common sense.

--- end extract from The Hindu article ---

Ravi: After reading up on Brexit and its social, political and business impact in just these few days after the referendum result, I am very convinced of the sagacity of the above statements of Prof. Chandhoke. I now honestly feel that a simple IN/OUT referendum on a serious matter which will be impacting lives of UK citizens for generations, like the Brexit referendum, was very, very inappropriate. I don't think the profound implications of a decision of UK to leave the EU was conveyed effectively to voters, and so the voters seem to have voted based on poor understanding of the impact of Britain leaving the EU. The blame for this cannot be put on the voters alone. The persons involved in putting up this decision as a simple IN/OUT referendum without adequately informing the voters of the consequences, also have to take the blame.

As the author suggests in her article (last of three suggestions), referendums like these can be considered advisory in nature and not binding. I (Ravi) think this will allow some more capable and knowledgeable people in the political, administrative and judicial corridors of power to prevent damage being done to future generations of a country's people by any single populist emotion powered referendum vote.

Perhaps a set of referendum votes, say three such votes, over a period like a year (less than the six year period the author suggests) may be more appropriate. Perhaps whether the result should be considered advisory or binding should be tied to the strength of the verdict. A two-third or higher majority vote could be considered binding.
...

Ravi: The issue that I have with this Brexit referendum is not the decision of Britain to leave the EU, but the manner in which the decision was arrived at. If the people of Britain have a decent understanding of the consequences of Brexit and then want to leave the EU, that would be fine. However, based on my readings, I do think that many of the voters of this Brexit referendum who voted to Leave, did not really understand the consequences of that decision.

I wonder how many would have voted to Leave if they had known that PM David Cameron would resign and that Labour MPs would want their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to resign as well.

I wonder how many would have voted to Leave if they had known that Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as the city of London wants to be with the EU (for job opportunities & business, I guess), and that Scotland would consider a way to stay somehow in the EU even if it meant attempts to have a repeat referendum of Scotland separating from the UK.

[I thank thehindu.com and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above short extract from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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