28 November 2006

What politicians think of us

On the rejection of his proposed constitution for the European Union:
It was not France that said ‘no’ to the constitution, it was 55 per cent of French people. Valery Giscard d'Estaing, quoted in the Brussels Journal.
There's a lot that can be read into this that one sentence: the arrogance of a member of the French political elite; that elite's disdain for voters; the concept of a France that is not some representation of a vision shared by the French, but one that is actually in conflict with the French people's wishes. I will just say that the statement represents the logical end point of a policymaking process that has nothing to do with outcomes that are meaningful to real people. The EU constitution on which the French voted was largely incomprehensible. More generally, policymaking is an arcane excercise to the non-specialist, where decisions are about changes to institutional structures or funding arrangements, and are driven by ideological concerns or the need to buy off various interest groups. Matters, in short, that have little relevance to the outsider. Indeed, they help create and widen the distinction between outsider and insider.

Giscard is the consummate insider. The outsiders used to be those who didn't bother to vote at all. But as far as Giscard is concerned, even those who do vote should be considered outsiders if they don't agree with what he and the other members of his priesthood think is best for us.

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