Are referendums overrated? (1)

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Apr 27, 2019 00:10
This is the title of an article I came across yesterday. Although I do not like reading on my mobile, the article seemed so interesting that I skimmed over it so as to know whether or not it was worth fully reading. Even doing so, it did not take me too long to realise that I completely agreed with what the author had written.

Since 1975, when the Franco’s dictatorship ended, there have been three referendums held in Spain. The first, and likely the most important of all three, was held in 1978. In this referendum, Spanish people were asked whether or not they ratified the constitution written by seven chosen members of the parliament and later approved by this chamber. Ratifying the constitution meant that Spain left the obscure forty years of dictatorship definitely behind. And as could not be otherwise, Spanish people largely agreed with the decision taken in the parliament.The second referendum was held in 1986. In this case, Spanish people were asked whether or not they wanted their country to join NATO. Spain joining NATO had always been a very controversial issue. After Spain being ruled by the centrist party UCD for two terms, Felipe Gonzalez, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party, became the prime minister. So far, left-wing parties had firmly opposed to Spain joining NATO. Every year, left-wing parties organised a march to the U.S. Air Force base nearby Madrid to demand that Americans go home. Since recently Spain had become a member of the EEC, something crucial to catch up economically with its neighbouring countries, not becoming a NATO member would put in jeopardy its membership in this organization. How were Spanish people, who had largely voted for a socialist leader to rule their country, going to vote in favour of entering NATO now? How was the Spanish Prime Minister, who had so far opposed so strongly to Spain joining NATO, going to change his mind and be now in favour of this issue? On a TV appearance, the socialist Spanish Prime Minister convinced those who had voted for him to make up their minds and now, vote in favour of Spain entering NATO. The third referendum was held in 2005. On this occasion, Spanish people were asked to ratify the EU Constitution. Unlike what had happened in the NATO referendum, this time there was no problem and the objective was easily accomplished.

Apart from these three referendums, there have also been other referendums organised in each Spanish autonomous community to ratify their own statute of autonomy. It is also worth mentioning the illegal independence referendum carried out by the Catalan Government last year, although I will write about it in my next entry.