Sunday, February 20, 2005
No Surprises

If we believe the Spanish government and the European Commission, this is a great day for Europe,as the Spanish people have voted 'Yes' to the new Constitution. Media reports may concentrate upon the 'low turnout' of 42% but the overwhelming majority of those who voted, gave a positive response. As the BBC succinctly put it:

A clear majority of Spaniards have voted in favour of the European Union constitution in a referendum.

With nine out of 10 votes counted, officials figures showed 77% of voters backed the charter.

Not entirely right: A clear majority of the Spaniards who voted... Approximately six out of ten Spaniards registered to vote stayed at home because they knew little about the Constitution or other unknown reasons. Tonight, the Commission crows as about three out of ten members of the Spanish electorate voted for ratification. If they can have a 'Yes' based upon apathy and low turnouts, they will accept such gifts.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who called Mr Zapatero to congratulate him, welcomed "the very clear 'yes' which Spain has given to a Europe which moves forward and which makes a difference, a Europe united in diversity".

The EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana said: "I am convinced that the results in Spain will have a positive impact in consultations that will take place in other EU member states in the coming months."

As the vote for the Constitution is not a contested issue in Spanish politics, this may prove a positive vote, although the treaty still has to be ratified by the legislature. In more divided countries such as Britain, supporters may opt for the lack of a threshold in the referendum bill and campaign for a low turnout favouring the 'Yes' vote. On present electoral patterns, that would be a very bad strategy, since this would only favour a positive vote in Britain, if they held a majority.


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