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The political leaders of both the European Union and the countries that belong to it have consistently defied the voted wishes of the electorate.
“Respect for the outcomes of referendums is perhaps not the most prominent feature of the sorry history of the E.U.,” said Philipp Genschel, a Professor at the Schumann Center for Advanced Studies. “However, the standard way not to respect the outcome of a referendum is not open defiance […] but the repetition of the referendum until it yields the ‘right’ outcome.”
In fact, the European Union as we know it today was built on a series of rejections of public votes. When the Danes in 1992 declined to accept the Maastricht treaty — which paved the way for a more integrated political union — the European Union made some concessions and then staged a second referendum in which voters finally approved of it. The same happened in 2001, when the Irish rejected the so-called Nice treaty as the bloc expanded eastward, and in 2008 when they opposed another treaty over further E.U. integration. Last year, Greek voters rejected bailout conditions proposed to the country by the European Union. But the leftist government in Athens ended up agreeing to most of those conditions anyway. Earlier this year, the Dutch voted against closer ties between the E.U. and Ukraine — a decision which was interpreted as a backlash against the hard-line stances of many E.U. governments toward Russia. The Dutch government is now considering to simply ignore the outcome of this referendum.
In other words, according to these preening self-righteous and power-hungry bureaucrats, to hell with democracy. We are your betters, and we will decide what you get, regardless of how you vote.
I suspect that, more than any other factor, it is this sorry history that drove the citizens of the UK to reject the European Union last week.