Upcoming Events

National | Elections

no events match your query!

User Preferences

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

Blog Feeds

forward

Cedar Lounge
For lefties too stubborn to quit

offsite link What you want to say ? 22nd October 03:53 Wed Oct 22, 2014 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link SF, the IRA and another legacy of the conflict. 19:12 Tue Oct 21, 2014 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link A voice of orthodoxy and the Budget? 13:05 Tue Oct 21, 2014 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link The end of austerity and the reception the Budget was given? 07:52 Tue Oct 21, 2014 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link The end of the age of austerity and the end of the left-wing independents and SF? They wish. 07:51 Tue Oct 21, 2014 | WorldbyStorm

Cedar Lounge >>

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

offsite link Irish Labour movement 1889-1924: Lecture Five - 1913 Lockout 09:47 Fri Oct 17, 2014

offsite link Global Finance, Money and Power: Lecture Six - Tax Havens 07:09 Thu Oct 16, 2014

offsite link Irish Labour Movement 1889-1924: Tutorial - Erin?s hope & Class in Ireland 13:44 Mon Oct 13, 2014

offsite link Irish Labour Movement 1889-1924: Lecture Four - Jim Larkin and Larkinism 09:15 Fri Oct 10, 2014

offsite link Global Finance, Money and Power: Lecture Five - Market Institutions 19:48 Wed Oct 08, 2014

Dublin Opinion >>

Irish Left Review
Joined up thinking for the Irish Left

offsite link Welcome to the New Tax Avoidance Scheme, Same as the Old Tax Avoidance Scheme Mon Oct 20, 2014 16:26 | Michael Taft

offsite link Revealed: EU science chief promised to be ?flexible? towards Israel?s war crimes Thu Oct 16, 2014 15:21 | David Cronin

offsite link Austerity is Over? Now Back to the Real World Wed Oct 15, 2014 17:21 | Michael Taft

offsite link A New Kind of Trade Unionism Emerging Wed Oct 15, 2014 16:24 | Irish Left Review

offsite link Open Letter on the Housing Crisis Tue Oct 14, 2014 15:50 | Irish Left Review

Irish Left Review >>

Human Rights in Ireland
www.humanrights.ie

offsite link A new Constitutional Settlement for Northern Ireland: Queries from International Law Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:27 | Aoife O'Donoghue

offsite link Why Budget 2015 must be that last of its kind Fri Oct 17, 2014 08:36 | Liam Thornton

offsite link Socio-Economic Rights & Budget Analysis: Some Notes on Available Resources, ?Progressivity? and Non... Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:55 | Liam Thornton

offsite link Legal pathways to reproductive justice and abortion rights #repealthe8th Mon Oct 13, 2014 15:00 | GuestPost

offsite link Options for Constitutional Reform #repealthe8th Mon Oct 13, 2014 14:30 | Fiona de Londras

Human Rights in Ireland >>

Referenda: A Strategy for Success?

category national | elections | 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.

© 2001-2014 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