Archive for February, 2005

Someone must have missed the point here

21 February 2005

I could not resist mentioning this delightful little incident caused by an admittedly rather smug TV advert made by the Swedish (state) broadcasting service SVT. Quoting the BBC:

In it, SVT describes itself as a “free” TV channel, in contrast to Italy where Mr Berlusconi “controls 90% of the national TV channels”.


Wrong question, wrong answers

13 February 2005

The UK has decided which question will be asked in the EU Constitution referendum in, er, late 2006: “Should the United Kingdom approve the treaty establishing a constitution for the European Union?” The Dutch Parliament has just nominated the committee that will oversee the organisation of the Dutch EU referendum and also formulate its question. Similar processes have started in most countries where referendums will be held. Most will come up with a referendum question along the same lines as the United Kingdom, that is, roughly: Would you vote yes or no to the Treaty text signed by the government leaders?.

But is it correct to ask the question like this? Put in this way, it is clear what happens if a majority votes ‘yes’. But is it equally clear what it means to vote ‘no’? Hardly, of course… hence the debate that has started on precisely this issue in many countries, especially in the UK. The British government says the referendum is about British membership of the EU: voting ‘no’ would mean that Britain leaves the EU altogether. And while there are some on the far end of the ‘no’ who wholeheartedly agree, such “scaremongering” tends to upset many EU-moderates as well as those EU-sceptics who merely wish to see the EU transformed into a free trade zone.