December 21, 2004

Fictitious Approval

Usually, when someone doesn't have a majority, they refrain from calling a vote.

For example, the American government had no majority for their war against Iraq in the UN Security Council. Barroso had no majority in the European Parliament for his first list of Commissioners. In both cases there was no vote.

However, if one really understands the Council rules of procedure, there can be an approving vote without a majority in Council at the time of that vote. Seems to have something to do with translations.

Of course, the theory of "decide now, translate later" as an explanation for limiting Member States rights under Article 3, Paragraph 8 of the Rules of Procedure is entirely incompatible with Article 14 of said Rules.

Having an approval without a vote is somewhat surprising for those lacking the deeper understanding of the Rules gained by not bothering to actually look at them. Exactly what kind of magic produces an approval without a majority?

The trick is not to call a vote in the first place. If you start actually counting votes, you might end up with having delegations state their real will.

Of course, if that happens, the "approval" in question is purely fictitious.

Logically, there are exactly two possibilities. Either the votes for and against of every delegation are taken and duly recorded, producing a result with some kind of legitimacy.

Or you don't call a vote and just rely on the fiction that there is a majority without bothering to check what the delegations want.

The German Federal Constitutional Court has annulled a law for this kind of magical creation of non-existent majorities in this 2002 decision.

Posted by Karl-Friedrich Lenz at December 21, 2004 10:48 AM | TrackBack