Up to 2010 you could have mistaken the “european project” – if you had been an extraordinarily gullible person that is. You could have considered it as an attempt to bring about long term change in a controlled way. Something like a long and winding road, giving the opportunity to phase out “Austria” and to blend in “EU” without violating the constitutional basis of the republic (too much). Provided of course, that the political leaders would be able to make a convincing case for european integration.
You could have cherished this illusion, if you had decided to ignore the obvious: the way, the government classes had handled the situation surrounding the constitution treaty 2004 and imposed the (deliberately) impenetrable treaty of Lisbon unto their peoples.
But the so called “euro crisis” changed this picture. Beginning from 2010 not even the most naive onlookers can pretend not to see the forest for the trees. This crisis has been openly used to cut a corner in this long and winding road (or two or three) – in order to arrive earlier where our politicians so desperately want us to be: in “Europe”.
During the crisis the governments managed to push through big changes, that could not have been introduced in a secret and piecemeal manner (like before). One example being the rescue fund ESM, allowing the Union to lay its hands on tax revenues of nation states and the fiscal compact which in effect ended the financial independence of national parliaments.
These “reforms” – which were marketed as “being without alternative” – were the last steps on a journey, that had started 15 years ago.
During this period five “red and black” and two “black and blue” Austrian governments engaged in undermining statehood, political self-determination and economic independence in a way, that can only be described by terms like “stealth”, “salami tactics” and “political guerilla warfare”.
These tactics have been used throughout the Union, not only in Austria. Their essence is to create faits accomplis “step by step until there is no turning back”, as Jean-Claude Juncker put it. Large parts of my 300 pages try to document this process in Austria.
This would have been ok, if the “sovereign” had approved of this, the sovereign, described in the first article of the constitution: “All power emanates from the people.”
But this never has happened, not in Austria and not somewhere else. Only in one instance did the austrian people “subscribe” to the “project” of their elites – in 1994, when two thirds gave green light to joining the Union.
But the referendum was no carte blanche at all, only a limited mandate – which at the time was completely clear, as evidenced in the introductory chapter. Anxious to secure a yes vote the politicians gave their word, that – in todays language – “What you see is what you get”.
Of course this was all smoke and mirrors. Today the government parties and their mouth pieces claim, that the austrian people had given a go-ahead with virtually no limits, a “Persilschein” as you say in colloquial german. (And that SPÖ and ÖVP have been elected in ordinary parliamentary elections ever since, misrepresenting this as consent to their integrationist politics.)
Till this day the referendum of 1994 is used as a whitewash for the drawn out coup d’état of mainstream political parties.
This “Putsch” was to be finalized by the end of 2014, when another european convention is (was) scheduled to take place (which seems to be in the process of being postponed).
The problem is, that the founding of a new state would only appear to be legitimate, if the nations, which are supposed to be incorporated would be consulted – at least under normal, not war-like conditions.
The Europeanists will try to tackle this problem in different ways:
Some experts will suggest, that there is no need of a popular vote, citing historical examples like the german Grundgesetz and the swiss constitution of 1848, which had to be accepted only by a majority of cantons. (There was a referendum in the cantons but only 20 per cent of the population was entiteled to vote. 15,5 Swiss cantons consented.)
“The constitution must be approved by the Member States but it is not necessary that they do so unanimously”, lectures one of these experts. “If the number of approving states reaches the critical mass required by the constitution, the latter normally binds those states that voted against it.”
Clearly such a scenario would be a (nearly) ideal solution for europeanists. It would mean, that even unsuspecting bystanders of a convention could be conscripted – or if you prefer the term: shanghaied.
But this probably could only be part of the “solution”. It would be difficult to avoid a popular vote alltogether. In the 21st century the clocks are ticking differently compared to those of the 19th century.
So a paneuropean referendum would have to be arranged, a plebiscite for 500 million europeans. From today’s vantage point this is the only chance for europeanists to be “successful” and achieve their goal. At the same time their affiliate parties would try to bar any attempt to organize (competing) national referenda.
Certainly this line of action would be an open violation not only of the basic principles in most constitutions, but also of the nations’ right to self-determination, which is a a cardinal requirement of modern international law.
But this is the base case scenario, integrationist groups are preparing for – e.g. in Austria.
Beginning in 2005, after the failure of the (original) constitution treaty, Ballhausplatz (governments and federal president Heinz Fischer) started the groundworks. Their “solution” even was hinted at in the government programme 2008.
This indication was removed in its successor programme in 2013 – which does not mean, that they gave up on the strategy. Their intentions are clear for all to see: Never ever ask the people to decide for itself – and if you have to, make sure, that it is the right people, the one that is most likely to approve your plans.
Full documentation in Volltext. The first chapter will be put up sunday evening.
Foto:: Jean-Baptiste Oudry – Allegory of Europe, 1722, Wikicommons