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Christopher Charlton BREXIT The Will of the people or the Opinion of the people
Over the last two years, so much has been said about the “Will of the people” that it has lost its relevance. As we approach another possible election or referendum, I would like to readdress the subject.
Great Britain is a parliamentary democracy and it has been for over 500 years. It is the beacon of light that the British have exported throughout the world through its Empire and trading partners.
People elect their members of parliament through the process of a General Election held every five years. These MPs are responsible for debating and enacting affairs of state and represent the interests of their constituents. Parliament is sovereign!
So, why the need for referendums and what do they mean? There have been 11 referendums since 1970, none pre-that date to my knowledge, and most of those concerned devolution. We have had two on Europe, the first in 1975 where we voted “in” and in 2016 where we voted “out”.
But the system is flawed. First, the referendums are not legally binding and only play or should play an advisory role to Parliament. Second, in a parliamentary democracy they should only be called on for issues of national importance and in this case a “real” majority is needed for the result to become the “Will of the people” rather than “the Opinion of the people”.
By “real”, I mean following the Australian model where since 1924, eligible voters are obliged to vote in both general elections and referendums unless they have a conscientious objection. A turnout of over 90% of the electorate vote with an over 50% majority means exactly what it says, a majority. To allow lower voter turnouts as is the case in the UK, then a higher majority in the referendum is needed to achieve the true above 50% majority result. So for a 70% turnout, a 72% majority is needed. Only then would the result truly represent the “Will of the people”. In the 2016 referendum, there was 52% majority with a 72% turnout, equivalent to 37% of the full electorate.
It is clear that 37% voting to leave does not equate to 63% voting to remain but it should do.
Now, leavers complain that the Government will keep calling referendums until they get the result it wants and this is undemocratic. This is true but at least this time around, the voters would have more understanding of what the issues are. I am not talking about intelligence but about awareness of the facts.
In a way, the Brexit constitutional problem lies in between the UK and Swiss parliamentary models. Switzerland is a people’s democracy; decisions on affairs of state are passed to the people on a regular basis whereby the Government then often just delays the implementation for long periods of time until everyone has forgotten what they voted for. We have a similar situation here where we have had a referendum, albeit non-binding, but the ruling party is run by a large majority of remainers including the Prime Minister and Chancellor. So, we have seen the Government reluctantly following the process of leaving and fudging every issue in its path. Only in our case as compared to the Swiss, the fudging has a finite end which will result in either a new election or a second referendum.
As a remainer, I hope for the latter and a vote to remain. It will be simple process to reverse Article 50 and since the UK has never left the EU, there are no obstacles to obstruct the implementation. But, without a “true” majority, the valid arguments of the leavers will not be resolved, and the deep resentment of the people will remain unsettled.
If the laws of referendums in the UK are not changed to produce a truly democratic result with a real majority, then another General Election is the only option available.
Ronny Kohl HEDGEWORK 158 | Interview: Genuine Global Macro
Global-Macro-Strategien gehören zu den ältesten Hedgefondsstrategien und vielleicht sogar zu den ältesten aktiven Investmentstrategien überhaupt. Dr. Andreas Sauer von ansa capital management ist davon überzeugt, dass eine „echte“ Global-Macro-Strategie bei der systematischen Analyse makroökonomischer Entwicklungen ansetzen muss. Im Gespräch mit Uwe Lill von Hedgework erklärt er den Ansatz seiner Strategie, die mit wissenschaftlicher Methodik an ökonomischen Wirklichkeiten ausgerichtet ist. Er selbst nennt dieses Vorgehen „Macro Sensitive Investing“.