The French referendum about the Constitution looks like a political opening-up. More and more one gets the impression of a denial of democracy and even of a hidden plebiscite, plotted by Jacques Chirac, a president that, since his re-election in 2002 and in spite of his successes in foreign policy, can no longer convince his voters. Regardless of the result, the consequences will be serious. Tony Blair has been the first to recognize it and has decided to ignore the referendum in England if the NO wins in France. The evil has been done. This referendum is absurd and suicidal for such a complex issue and it brings up doubts not only about the political intelligence of the head of state but also of those around him and his communication advisors. How could one be fully aware of its consequences and still make that decision about this 500-page punishment that is so complex even for specialists on Constitutional Law and that is a topic analyzed in more than 10 books included in the current best-selling list? Is it a society game aiming at hiding the concerns of a political class that is disconcerted in front of globalization? The stigmatization of recent polls that say the NO will win is another example of the separation from democratic procedures. The image portrayed by media in general is frightening. Such unanimous consensus over the disapproval shows this denial of democracy. How can a referendum be legitimate when all media and all political parties vilify one of the alternatives? The practice of the public vote with the assistance of a program of automatic piloting for planes; will it be used any time soon? If anyone has to be blamed for this failure, it should be the President for his lack of nose. He has already washed his hands saying that he will not resign. All this shows the transition from democracy of opinion to democracy of compromise. The electorate is no longer expected to show the free choice and well-reasoned decision of a sovereign people. This democracy only demands a “weak consensus”, a good solution for a people that, after so many public opinion surveys, are exposed to all kinds of brain-washing and whose only response to the current issue is a conditioned reflex. With the progress achieved by real time electronic democracy, under the influence of unlimited publicity techniques, it is the time of virtual democracy that continues, exactly like we experienced it during the election of Schwarzenegger in California.

Source: Die Zeit (Germany) Reference: “Das betäubte Volk”, by Paul Virilio, Die Zeit, May 25, 2005.