The Danish vote against the euro last fall was a serious setback for the plans of Brussels eurocrats. The Danish “no” reveals the growing rift between the eurofanaticism of the globalist establishment and the reality of public opinion.
On September 28, 2000, 53.5 percent of Denmark’s electorate rejected the euro. The result is even more significant since all major government and opposition parties, the media, businesses, and unions were urging a “yes” vote. The general reaction in the Danish press was that the voters had shot themselves in the foot, losing their right to any say in E.U. affairs.
Unlike the outcome of the 1992 referendum on ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, the rejection of the euro was widely expected, which was why top E.U. officials had minimized the importance of the vote before it was even tallied. Such eurofanatics as French socialist Laurent Fabius, E.U. finance minister and current chairman of the eurogroup, simply told the Financial Times that “the euro is doing well and will continue to do so.” The fact that the currency has lost 25 percent of its value since its inception is apparently immaterial to him.
Despite protestations to the contrary from Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Swedish colleague Goran Persson, the Danish vote will likely affect the results of similar referenda in those two “euroskeptic” countries, hi the aftermath of the Danish referendum, the Financial Times (October 3, 2000) reported that many Swedes oppose the euro for the same reasons that the Danes do, namely, a belief that their economy is doing perfectly well without the common currency, suspicions about further political integration, and anxiety about the impact of the euro on generous welfare programs.
Even more significant are the potential consequences for political integration and eastward expansion of the European Union. The real winner that emerged from the referendum was the populist Danish People’s Party, led by Pia Kjaersgaard. Often described as a “Danish Haider in woman’s clothes,” Kjaersgaard has made it clear that her goal is to impede the political unification of Europe.
The People’s Party was established five years ago in the midst of increasing anti-E.U. sentiment; according to the International Herald Tribune (September 28, 2000), it has gained votes by arguing that integration into the European Union will lead to more immigration. Since almost half of the crimes in Denmark are committed by immigrants, it is not surprising that recent opinion polls show the People’s Party at 15 percent, making it a serious contender for power in the next election. But Pia Kjaersgaard refuses to exploit the result of the referendum, claiming that the defeat of the euro was a victory not only for her party but for “the whole of Denmark.”
In fact, the “no” vote represented the triumph of grassroots democracy over both local politicians and the unelected and unaccountable political machine in Brussels and Strasbourg. The Danes realized that the referendum concerned not only monetary issues but the question of Danish national identity. The deep-rooted feelings of the average Dane were epitomized in such statements as “Economic issues are not all in life. There are other values. I will vote no because I do not want to lose my identity. I am and want to remain a Dane” (Il Giornale, September 28, 2000) and “We have a great problem with Moslems. They are not coming here to become Danish Christians, but to Islamic[ize] Denmark” (La Repubblica, September 30, 2000). This opinion is shared by Peter Skaarup, the ideologue of the Danish People’s Party. Muslims in Denmark, he argues, are attempting to impose their wav of life: “For example, they regard women as inferior, expect Moslem girls to wear the chador and harass our girls up to the point of raping them” (Il Giornale, September 30, 2000).
Another factor that affected the outcome of the referendum was the way the European Union has treated Austria with respect to Jörg Haider, which has strengthened Danish fears that minor nations such as Austria and Denmark would be overpowered by E.U. heavyweights. Indeed, Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini has argued that, in E.U. decisionmaking, majority rule “must be used in general, while the need for unanimity must be the exception.” It “has been accepted by all,” he declared, that the votes of larger states will carry more weight. But who, exactly, is “all”? Certainly not the Danes and probably not other small E.U. nations.
The truth of the matter is that “the whole drive toward European union lacks democratic legitimacy.” This is not the opinion of a fanatical europhobe, but of the International Herald Tribune (October 4, 2000), whose political correctness is beyond dispute. Although the Danish population has had regular opportunities to express its opinion on the European Union (the September vote was the sixth poll), most European voters have never been consulted by their governments (Italy, for example, has never held a vote).
If the value of a currency depends on the confidence of its users, then the depressing plight of the euro shows that most Europeans have no confidence in it. The woes of the euro hear witness to the failure of the “Monnet method” of European unification. Against the federalist vision of Altiero Spinelli (1907- 1986), based on a constitutional assembly charged with creating a “United States of Europe,” Jean Monnet (1888-1979) opposed his “functionalist” strategy of political unification through the gradual integration of economic structures.
The drafting of a charter of fundamental rights for the European Union is presently under way; the intent is to replace Monnet’s monetary Europe with a Europe of rights and values. But what kind of rights and values? The current draft does not provide for the rights to life and religious freedom, and a reference to the “religious, humanistic and cultural legacy” of Europe, proposed by the Bavarian Christian Democrats, was rejected by French Socialist Premier Lionel Jospin, who said he could never accept a European identity based on a “religious legacy.”