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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Socialist Federal Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Montenegro, Serbia

Montenegro has voted for independence from their union with Serbia. They already use the Euro (without any formal agreement to do so!) so membership of the EU is a definite and realistic objective - and maybe an urgent one. Welcome to the international community.

The Montenegran Foreign Minister was talking to the BBC saying he knew the BBC had recieved a statement from his Serbian counterpart, yet he had not had any call from him. Being as how it is Serbia's only access to the Mediterranean there must be a few gritted teeth in Belgrade right now.

Serbia must presumably negotiate with Montenegro about splitting the debt and assets of what used to be Yugoslavia. There's Kosovo for the Serbs to think about - but that's not Montenegro's headache any more. The threshold for the referendum was set at 55% and the latest figures indicate a 55.4% vote in favour. So I wonder what bitterness will be felt by the 44.6%? Remember what happened when Slovenia announced independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 (I think it was) - the Serbs sent tanks in and there was a brief battle and then they left - now Slovenia is inside the EU as one of the new 10 nations. The new, kinder, gentler, less genocidal Serb leadership these days would never jeopardise their relationship with the EU to pull that sort of stunt again.

55% seems like an odd, compromise sort of threshold that the EU came up with apparently. The votes on Quebec "independence" from Canada was set at 50%. Western Australia voted in 1933 at above 60% for independence from the Australian Commonwealth (from memory) but Canberra and Westminster rejected it. The East Timor referenda on independence was very high, above 70% I think. Many constitutions have 2/3 as the proportion needed to enact major constitutional change. The MMP referendum was about 54% -ish.

I think that perhaps we could sort of have it both ways in any future constitution: make it 50% - but of total registered voters. So at an impossibly high 100% voter turn-out the threshold would be 50%, at only a 50% turn-out then it would take an impossible 100% vote to reach the threshold. At 75% turn-out it would need a 3/4 vote. I'm not sure about this but @62.5% turn-out = 87.5% threshold, @ 87.5% turn-out = 62.5% threshold. Now unfortunately if we had this system MMP would not have been passed, and Montenegro with a 86.3% turn-out would have needed about 64% vote and would thus have failed. With our usual 80-85% turn-out figure we would have to get about a 2/3 vote - which is not unreasonable for major decisions. The higher the turn-out the smaller the threshold. It's something to look into.


At 23/5/06 6:52 pm, Blogger peterquixote said...

as usual tim, ahead of the rest,


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