This is going to be a short piece, also a very basic one on the topic. My arguments may sound too naive- I don’t have much knowledge of this but still I wanted to write this here, at least it’s an original thought. We will see another referendum soon, in the UK, to decide whether it should stay in the European Union (EU) or not. Google defines a referendum as “a general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision”. Which means that the government asks the people whether it should go ahead with a particular decision or not. The last major referendum we saw was also in the UK- the Scottish people were asked whether Scotland should be an independent country or should it continue as a part of the UK. Majority of the people who voted wanted to continue and hence Scotland remains in the UK. One happened in Greece recently where the people were asked whether to accept a bailout package or not. People said yes.
My problem with any referendum is that it presents a very complex political question of serious and long lasting consequences of all kinds to people who may not be in the best position to judge. I mean, the average citizen is not equipped enough- with information and capabilities, to take a call on matters that referendums normally are about.
Let’s take the upcoming referendum- whether the UK should continue in the EU or not. For an average citizen to make up her mind on this, first, she should be provided with FULL information. I’m not sure if that’s going to be the case. Leaders of parties are divided into two camps- in favour of and against Brexit (the short form for the Britain’s exit from the EU) and will be running campaigns telling people why they want what they want and the people also should want the same. Firstly, I doubt if the leaders are far-sighted enough to comprehend all the consequences of such a major decision and even if they do, whether they will share all that with the people. Secondly, even if the voters are presented with full information, I’m not sure if the average citizen is sharp enough to analyse the political, economic, and social consequences of it.
The Greeks were asked whether the government should accept the bailout conditions regarding the country’s debt-crisis jointly proposed by the IMF, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission. I mean, which citizen can understand the intricacies of international debt and borrowing, financial autonomy, streamlining the government, austerity and all the other related factors?
I therefore think that no government should ask such complex questions to its people, such decisions should not be left to the people directly. There is a reason why a government is elected, on behalf of the people. There is a reason why a few hundred elected people represent millions of the population. They are elected and bestowed with powers to make important decisions. Now if they run back to the common people when confronted with tough issues, then why does someone need them in the first place? I believe that every government should have the courage to pull its socks and roll its sleeves, do whatever it takes, to decide on crucial issues, by itself. Please don’t ask your boss, the people, to do your job.