Definitely, will the whole UK leave the EU?
Brexit has won by 51,9% against 48,1%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, and 28.2% didn’t vote, and we do not know their opinion. In fact Brexit is backed by only 37,3% of the whole population with the right to vote.
The poll divided the UK. Is the purpose of a democracy to divide the people, to divide a country?
From one side, England voted for Brexit by 53.4%, and 46.6%, so did Wales, with Brexit obtaining 52.5% against 47.5% Remain.
But on the other side, Scotland, Northern Ireland and London both voted Remain. Scotland by 62% against 38%, Northern Ireland 55.8% against 44.2%, and London, the capital of the UK, 59.9% against 40.1%. Gibraltar voted even more than 90% Remain.
England and Wales decided for the rest of the UK and against the will of the other regions of the UK. What kind of democracy is this? Can we call this “democratic quality”?
Scotland, Northern Ireland and Londen (and Gibraltar) are all unhappy, even angry. Scotland could ask for a new referendum to leave the UK and join the EU, and Northern Ireland is dreaming of uniting with Ireland, and in such a way remain in the EU.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that it is “democratically unacceptable” that Scotland faces being taken out of the EU when it voted to Remain. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that the whole island of Ireland should now be able to vote on reunification.
In their book “Introducing Democracy“, David Beetham and Kevin Boyle pose the question: “Is the majority rule always democratic?” And they speak of the “subordination of minorities” and “the right to veto legislation which threatens their vital interests”, such as “their autonomy in running their own affairs“. They conclude that “A wise majority will go someway towards meeting the minority, if at all possible, rather than using its majority position simply to overrule them. Democracy is only sustainable if people can agree to continue living together. and that requires that majorities, and the governments representing them, be prepared to exercise a measure of self-restraint, and do not always use the majority procedure to capture everything for themselves and their own point of view.”
Other democracies as for instance the Belgian Federal State require for transcendent matters that at least two thirds of the votes are required to be valid, as well in the country as a whole as in each region.
Quality of democracy is important. What happened with the Brexit poll is not high quality democracy.