Under the terms of a nation-wide referendum the British people on June 23 voted to leave the EU. The results have been devastating to say the least; results that nobody expected! It took the entire world by surprise but especially the complacent EU bureaucracy.
The Commission recognized that a domino effect might follow, shattering their empire and cozy relationships. They immediately tried to brush aside the Brexit results by making revengeful comments about the UK decision.
The Brexit Referendum would certainly take Britain out of the EU but it also triggers a nagging constitutional question: were the terms and results of the referendum representative of a true democracy or a flawed democracy?
Plato considered Democracy as bad and one that also encourages corruption but in the case of Brexit, it has become obvious that the principal of the referendum needs to be redefined from its original concept introduced by A.V. Dicey – an authority on British constitutional matters. He calls the right to a Referendum as the “people’s veto” against ill-conceived government policies – and rightly so.
But just like Plato’s bad democracy, which treats “all people as equal whether they are or not”, Dicey’s flawed Referendum also treats the Referendum results as final and decisive without respect or the significance of the opposing views in question. In fact it does not take into account the impact and severity of a referendum but instead it treats “all issues as equal whether they are or not!”
The Brexit has been an eye opener and demands the powerful brains of constitutional experts to ponder upon and introduce changes in parliament to revise the terms of referendums.
48% of British citizens (16,141,241) voted to REMAIN in the European Union and 52% other citizens (17,410,742) voted to LEAVE. The difference of a small majority of 4% or 1,269,501 voters have decided the destiny of the entire population for years to come.
Some would argue that that’s democracy in action while others would equally argue that it’s flawed democracy in action! That’s precisely the point of the argument: is democracy fair and just when it comes to referendums held on constitutional matters?
That dilemma raises the question; is a small majority-win sufficient enough to be considered an overwhelming majority-win and impose its wishes on an entire population without recourse? A win that does not take into account the young people’s opinions on issues that will fundamentally affect their lives?
A flawed democracy raises serious question of its own legitimacy for the right to impose its will without the recognition of the rights of others! Under the terms of a referendum a majority as little as 1% or even less can seal the fate of a nation forever.
That cannot be right!
Constitutional changes that threaten the basic fabric of the nation, not only demand the people’s approval in a Referendum but it must equally recognise the rights of the opposing side.
To overcome voter ambiguities a win of 10-15% majority should be considered as an overwhelming majority-win and be truly representative of the mass population. Anything less than that would demand a second Referendum where its result would then be treated as final and binding.
If so, the losing side would not feel betrayed but reassured, that, their opposing platform was not accepted by the overwhelming majority of the nation. That’s Democracy in Action!
Constitutional experts would need to ponder on such a constitutional dilemma of Flawed Referendum in a Flawed Democracy.
Andreas C Chrysafis
Author/ Writer/ Artist
June 26, 2016