Upcoming Events

National | Elections / Politics

no events match your query!

New Events

National

no events posted in last week

User Preferences

  • Language - en | ga
  • text size >>
  • make this your indymedia front page make this your indymedia front page

Blog Feeds

forward

Human Rights in Ireland
www.humanrights.ie

offsite link The Parallels between the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Divorce Referendum Sun Apr 26, 2015 20:54 | Brian Tobin

offsite link Is the Marriage Equality Referendum about Human Rights? Thu Apr 23, 2015 19:22 | Fiona de Londras

offsite link Childbirth, Choice and the Courts: The 8th Amendment and More. Tue Apr 21, 2015 18:11 | Máiréad Enright

offsite link School of Law, NUI Galway, Annual Distinguished Lecture 2015: Friday 24th April, 8pm, Aula Maxima, N... Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:29 | Charles O'Mahony

offsite link Just and unjust wars: the Holy See, #R2P and a concern about genocide in the Middle East Mon Apr 20, 2015 08:38 | Liam Thornton

Human Rights in Ireland >>

Cedar Lounge
For lefties too stubborn to quit

offsite link Party Polls in Dublin West and Dublin South Central 09:48 Mon Apr 27, 2015 | irishelectionliterature

offsite link It?s a giveaway? 07:49 Mon Apr 27, 2015 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link Left Archive: Dublin Spartacist Group Statement ? ?Socialist Party/Socialist Workers Party: No alter... 07:40 Mon Apr 27, 2015 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link Reactionary, yes, but logical in its own way? 18:17 Sun Apr 26, 2015 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link The first lock hard of Spring? 13:58 Sun Apr 26, 2015 | WorldbyStorm

Cedar Lounge >>

Dublin Opinion
Life should be full of strangeness, like a rich painting

offsite link THE WRATH OF KANE: BANKING CRISES AND POLITICAL POWER 09:32 Fri Jan 30, 2015

offsite link ALWAYS THE ARTISTS: WEEK THREE OF THE BANK INQUIRY 23:11 Thu Jan 22, 2015

offsite link FIANNA FÁIL AND THE BANK INQUIRY : SOME INITIAL OBSERVATIONS 21:04 Mon Jan 12, 2015

offsite link PETER NYBERG BANK INQUIRY EVIDENCE, 17 DECEMBER 2014 18:05 Sun Dec 28, 2014

offsite link For Some Vicious Mole of Nature: Making Sense of The Irish Bank Crisis 21:07 Fri Dec 26, 2014

Dublin Opinion >>

NAMA Wine Lake

offsite link Farewell from NWL Sun May 19, 2013 14:00 | namawinelake

offsite link Happy 70th Birthday, Michael Sun May 19, 2013 14:00 | namawinelake

offsite link Of the Week? Sat May 18, 2013 00:02 | namawinelake

offsite link Noonan denies IBRC legal fees loan approval to Paddy McKillen was in breach of E... Fri May 17, 2013 14:23 | namawinelake

offsite link Gayle Killilea Dunne asks to be added as notice party in Sean Dunne?s bankruptcy Fri May 17, 2013 12:30 | namawinelake

NAMA Wine Lake >>

Referenda: A Strategy for Success?

category national | elections / politics | opinion/analysis author Wednesday January 18, 2012 10:22author by Andrew Report this post to the editors

The idea that calling for a referendum is a good strategy for winning significant reforms often crops up in campaigns. It seems logical, as a referendum is a chance for the population to directly make a decision on the issue to hand. But the reality is that the demand for a referendum is seldom, if ever, the best way to build a struggle for a reform. Here are five reasons why:

Lobbying


Under the Irish constitution a referendum can only be held after a bill has been passed by the Dail and the Seanad setting out the proposed amendment to the constitution. In other countries and some US states a referendum can be called if enough people sign a petition. That is not the case in Ireland. So in Ireland a referendum will only happen if you convince the government parties to call one while allowing them control over the wording that will be voted on.


Influence


The nature of a referendum debate is such that it will be almost completely dominated by those with money, power and influence. Independent media group, which owns the Evening Herald, Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, Sunday World and the Irish Daily Star, as well as 14 regional titles and two free newspapers, has been dominated by the O’Reilly family since 1973 and has the ability to put the equivalent of a long leaflet in everyone’s hand every day.


Isolation


The nature of referenda is that we make our decisions in the isolation of the ballot box, an isolation designed to amplify the influences of the political parties and media. Outside of family & pub arguments there is no process of collective debate and discussion. We observe the opinions of the wealthy 1% and their hirelings and then choose between them.


Result


The nature of a referendum is that once the vote has happened the vast majority of people will consider that issue to have been settled for a number of years. That means referenda are not good ways of building a struggle because if you fail to win them many will see it as being all over. From that point of view, there is no point in a referendum being called unless there is reasonable confidence of winning.


Power


A referendum is only another state process by which we face the power of the 1% and, like all the other processes of that type from court cases to elections, has been designed to maximize the influence of those who have power and money over the results. All these processes are designed to give the impression that all are equal before them but in all cases this is not true.


Our struggles for change that are based around using tools designed by the masters will be weak and powerless. We need to develop and use tools that do the opposite, that build on our strength and make us powerful. These are the sort of tools that are based on mass collective discussion and action rather than either listening to or following the actions of the few.


Our tools are the strike, mass demonstrations, assemblies and mass organisations that we build and have some control over. When we fight for reforms it may well be that when we show our strength, the state will seek to compromise and diffuse that through offering referenda but, if so, that is something we have won not through seeking a referendum but by frightening them into calling one.

© 2001-2015 Independent Media Centre Ireland. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Independent Media Centre Ireland. Disclaimer | Privacy