The march of Democracy may even reach the EU

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The undemocratic ways of the European Union are finally catching up with it as many of its member states - especially the United Kingdom and France - consult with their voters over whether to approve the new federal constitution prepared by the Brussels bureaucrats.

Voters in France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic and, most notably, Britain are leaning toward rejection of the document which confers vast new powers to shape foreign policy and regulate all aspects of European life on the EU.

Of course, Germany and a majority of the EU nations are simply skipping any consultation with their voters and ratifying the constitution in their national parliaments. When I asked one German Christian Democratic Union leader why the party does not insist on a referendum, I got the reply: "We had referenda in the '30s, and they didn't work out so well."

Email newsletter signup

The entire bias of the EU is toward socialism on an economic level and government by bureaucratic fiat on an administrative and political level. It really represents a European effort to mimic the kind of bureaucratic control that Japan is struggling, unsuccessfully, to shake off.

Government by those who think they know better is the common denominator here and the major threat to freedom in our post-fascist, post-Communist era. EU regulators have injected themselves into every bit of minutia in the economies of each of their countries, and popular frustration with their meddling is growing.

All this would be fine if the growth of bureaucracy and government intervention were matched by a concomitant expansion of democracy, but it is not. The bureaucracy in Brussels is unchecked by any elected body. The Council of Ministers - the member-nation presidents or premiers - is too unwieldy to exercise any real influence, and the members of the European Parliament are so hamstrung by the bureaucracy that members are not even allowed to introduce legislation. They must content themselves with voting on bills proposed by the bureaucracy.

Until now, the EU has tried to propagate itself by spreading money all over Europe and hoping to buy the affections of their constituents with a return of their own funds that they have sent to Brussels. But now that the EU project is finally about to change from an economic union to a political one,voters are balking at the transfer of their powers and sovereignty. Forced into permitting referenda in their own countries, France and Britain are watching their electorates rebel and demand democracy in their own governments.

This week, polls reflect that, even in France, the epicenter of the EU, voters are turning against the proposed constitution, a document largely written by French former President Val\u00E9ry Giscard D'Estaing. The two most recent polls show a majority of decided voters are now planning to vote against the document, although the undecided vote is still quite high.

French complaints are, typically, the opposite of those in the United Kingdom. The British worry that the socialists on the continent are trying to undo former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's free-market reforms and impose government economic controls. The French worry that the strict regulations Paris now imposes on all manner of professional services - from architects to hair dressers - will be overturned by an EU insistence on opening the markets to providers from other countries.

But, in both cases, the underlying complaint and worry is that the Brussels bureaucracy is not accountable to the European person in the street and marches only to the beat of its own drummer.

The EU will, of course, fight back, using the money it extracts from the European people to propagandize its achievements and raise the specter of chaos should the constitution by rejected. But the global revolution in democracy sweeping other nations seems, at last, to be influencing Europe and leading voters, where they are allowed to vote, to stand up and fight for their own self-government.

Dick Morris was an adviser to Bill Clinton for 20 years. E-mail Morris at