Year 2000 No. 166, October 5, 2000
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
Who Should Govern?
Danish People Vote NO to the Euro
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It is reported that William Hague will tell the Conservative Party Conference today that the Conservatives are ready to govern again after three years out of power.
This has come after the repercussions of the protests around the country over the high cost of fuel, which saw the opinion polls putting out amazingly that the Conservatives were more popular than Tony Blair for the first time in eight years.
This issue of this popularity contest between the two parliamentary parties is likely to strike the vast majority of people as bizarre. The credibility crisis of the electoral system has gone beyond the point where the credibility of the system can be restored by trying to resuscitate the classic equilibrium between the alternation of one party in power and one party out of power.
The May 1997 election saw the emergence, out of the unpopularity of the Conservatives, of Tony Blair as the undisputed champion of the bourgeoisie. The guile of the bourgeoisie was such that at that time they were able to bring Tony Blair triumphantly to power as their champion, while he claimed to act in the name of the workers and the majority of the people, in unity against the far right, which he claimed the Tories represented. In other words, he was to take the country even further down the Thatcherite road, while claiming to be opposing the forces of conservatism of the right and of the "left".
Now Tony Blairs crown of champion is becoming tarnished, but even more to the point is that the legitimacy of the system which brought him to power cannot be restored. This is so whether it is the Conservatives who are rehabilitated through establishing their "credentials to govern", or whether the Labour Party goes back to its grass roots with more promises to so-called "tax and spend" or bring in big organised labour with a present-day equivalent to "beer and sandwiches at No. 10". Neither is the issue. The issue is the electoral system can no longer demonstrate its legitimacy, or rather its lack of legitimacy is becoming further exposed. That is, the electoral system does nothing to ensure that the popular will is exhibited in governance, and in fact with the fuel crisis being a notable symptom ensures that the working class and people themselves are kept away from governance, from making the decisions which control their lives.
The issue for the workers, therefore, is to look this legitimacy crisis squarely in the eye, to call a spade a spade and resolve to take centre stage in the development of society and open the door to a new society. This means that they themselves should become political! This particular juncture has opened up a space for worker politicians to step forward, and raise the level of class struggle and of political discussion within the working class.
The working class and people should grasp what is already a concrete reality, that neither a "left"-moving or "democratised" Labour Party nor a rehabilitated Conservative Party has any legitimacy to govern, but that the political system itself is the crucial block to the workers becoming political and taking power.
How is this to be done? All workers worth their salt should wage the class struggle in favour of their interests, which is summed up in the fighting programme Stop Paying the Rich Increase Investments in Social Programmes! At the same time, they should organise their peers around writing for and disseminating the mass party press, specifically Workers Weekly. In this way they will train and steel themselves as worker politicians and contribute to building the revolutionary movement of the working class towards a new society. This will stand them in good stead to challenge the legitimacy and credibility of the political system when the time comes to take a decisive stand.
Last Thursday, the Danish people dealt a heavy blow to big European capital and its project for creating a United States of Europe on a neoliberal and imperialist basis.
After several months of an intensive campaign, which especially during the final two weeks was also a vicious one, the Danish referendum had a record participation of more than 87 per cent of those entitled to vote. Of these, 53.2 per cent cast their vote against Denmark's incorporation in the third phase of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), while only 46.9 per cent were in favour this project of the political an financial elite, much below what was predicted in all the opinion polls.
The Danish and international press then tried to propagate the false message that the NO vote was rightist, xenophobic or isolationist. Just the opposite is the case. Although it is true that there is a small minority who defend these reactionary ideas, the vast majority of those who voted NO are progressive and democratic forces that defend international co-operation and reject all kinds of xenophobia and racism. One proof of this is that a big number of immigrants and refugees who have obtained the right to vote in Denmark cast their votes together with the popular forces against the project of the elite.
The NO vote proved the correctness of the tactical line of the popular forces who from the very start decided to concentrate their campaign, not so much on the economic aspect of the EMU, as on the political and social aspects. Many analysts agree that the government and the pro-EMU forces lost the referendum because the popular forces succeeded in putting these aspects on the agenda.
The EMU is basically a neoliberal project that imposes a social model which is only beneficial to the big capitalists and their political servants, which is leading to marked social differences and inequality.
The EMU is a completely undemocratic project. Although there is a big opposition in all European countries and a majority against the EMU in countries like Finland and Germany, the overwhelming majority of the peoples of the European Union have never had the possibility to have their say to this crucial question for their future. The progressive forces therefore hope that the Danish NO, just like the NO to Maastricht in 1992, will inspire people to enter into a democratic debate all over Europe.
The continent of Europe is divided between the popular forces and big monopoly capital. The progressive forces in Denmark who campaigned for a NO vote point out that big capital has presented its reactionary project, so now the popular forces must take the offensive with an alternative based on democracy, social equality, real welfare and the respect for national sovereignty and different national traditions and characteristics. The progressive forces underline that although the Danish people have won a battle, the war is still not over. The task now is to defend the NO, which the Danish government will surely try to undermine, and to mobilise for future battles, one of which is the intergovernmental conference in Nice in December.
For the information of our readers, we enclose a translation of the declaration published by the Communist Party of Denmark/M-L in Copenhagen on September 29, the morning following the referendum.
Declaration by the Communist Party of
NO once more NO
A clear majority of the Danish people said NO the Euro.
The pro-Euro forces lost the discussion on welfare. A big majority of the Danish people watch over and guard a [social] welfare model financed by taxes. It rejected a system based on private insurance, which would create more social inequality in our society. It clearly rejected that the monopolies should dictate the political development and the liquidation of welfare.
In the days up to the referendum, the government, together with the bourgeois opposition, intimidated the people with massive economic measures, higher interest rate and unemployment. They promised us wonders if only we voted yes. But the independence of Denmark was not for sale. The people didn't let themselves be intimidated. Instead, a record number of Danes showed up at the polls and voted NO.
The campaign made it clear that the Euro is not a project limited to the economic area. It can't function without a political superstructure. And this is what the Danes dont want. They said NO to the union and rejected the salami tactics of the pro-Euro forces.
The referendum was the most important of its kind since Denmark's integration in the EEC in 1972. It ended in a striking defeat for the government and the bourgeois opposition who controlled the media and had millions for their campaign. But a big majority of the Danes stood firm. A majority of the Danish people rejected the Euro because it represents a further step towards the United States of Europe, which is a project of the elite. A majority of the Danes stood firm and defended democracy.
The Danish NO will have repercussions all over Europe. It is an internationalist NO. It is a signal that the European development is derailing. It expresses a hope for millions of Europeans who were never asked. It inspires the struggle to stop the project of the monopolies.
Now the NO must be defended
Within 70 days, the negotiations on a new EU Treaty will start in Nice. The referendum is a clear signal from the people to the Danish government that they will not accept more selling out of national self-determination.
Therefore, the Communist Party of Denmark ML demands that the government must not accept giving up the right of veto, as the big powers of the EU want [it] to do. If the government chooses to sign this Treaty, a new referendum must be organised.
As a consequence of the referendum, all ties between the Euro and the krone must be cut. Therefore, the Communist Party of Denmark ML demands that the agreement on the so-called new exchange-rate mechanism (ERM2) is cancelled.
The Communist Party of Denmark ML demands an end to all flirtation with the four Danish exemptions to the Maastricht Treaty.
We don't trust the government's and the bourgeois opposition's promises.
During the last seven month of campaign, a broad popular alliance has been created on an anti-racist ground. The Communist Party of Denmark ML will fight to defend and strengthen this unity which is crucial as a bulwark against any undermining of the Danish NO.
Communist Party of Denmark ML
September 28, 2000
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