We may not hear about it on this side of the pond, but the nations of Europe have a federalism problem much like ours.
America was originally designed to keep as much power as possible with the individual states, only giving to the Federal government explicitly designated authority. Unfortunately, our Federal government has long since crossed that boundary, collecting vastly more taxpayer dollars and having enormously more influence on our lives than the Founders ever intended.
As troublesome as this is, and as difficult as it will be to reverse, at least it can in theory be fixed. It is not totally inconceivable that we'd elect a true-blooded conservative President and Congress which will chop the Federal bureaucracy and regulations down to size. Alternatively, the governors of the states may demand their proper powers back; there are signs of this happening.
Europe via the EU has a far worse problem. Unlike America, the European Commission has no Constitution even attempting to limit its powers. There is a European Parliament elected by the voters, but without continent-wide political parties it's hard for this body to act as any sort of check on the Europe-wide governance bodies and bureaucracies.
And these bodies are? Primarily, the European Commission (EC) and European Courts of Justice. Neither of these bodies are directly elected; both have a vested interest in accumulating ever more power at the expense of what once were the individual nations of Europe. Because the legal agreements establishing them are technically international treaties, these organizations are extremely difficult to change.
Just as we in America stifle under rule from Washington, so individual Europeans have their daily lives impacted by mandates from Brussels.
In America, we have the occasional far-lefty nutjob who claims that felons should have the right to vote while in prison. In Europe, the unelected European Court of Human Rights simply decided that they magically have this right and ordered England to make it so. That the elected MPs of Parliament's overwhelming voted in opposition meant nothing at all.
Occasionally it's possible to get the most ludicrous EU regulations repealed. For some years, Europe-wide regulations forbade the sale of any vegetable that did not meet strict appearance standards. Cucumbers, for instance, must "be reasonably well shaped and practically straight (maximum height of the arc: 10 mm per 10 cm of the length of cucumber)." Eventually the wastage grew too obvious and the rules were relaxed.
On the really important stuff, though, the more irrational the rule, the more adamantly the EU clings to it. The European Court of Human Rights routinely rules that convicted foreign felons cannot be deported to their home countries due to a "right to family life" in the European country of which they are not a citizen and where they committed dreadful crimes.
What sort of family life could be more important than getting rid of thugs, criminals, and other illegal aliens? Would you believe... a pet cat? Not even a terrorist gets the OK from the Eurocrats to receive a richly-deserved heave-ho. Again, there is absolutely nothing England's Parliament can do about it.
Except that it turns out that there is. The treaties which created the EC monster are dreadfully hard to change, but any member country, technically, can pull out at any time. Senior members of the Conservative Party are demanding a referendum on exactly that.
Mr Pritchard says that the EU has become an “occupying force” which is eroding British sovereignty and that the “unquestioning support” of backbenchers is no longer guaranteed.
He says the Government should hold a referendum next year on whether Britain should have a “trade only” relationship with the EU, rather than the political union which has evolved “by stealth”.
This MP and senior party secretary didn't mince words:
For many Britons, the EU has already become a kind of occupying force, setting unfamiliar rules, demanding levies, curbing freedoms, subverting our culture and imposing alien taxes. In less than four decades, Britain has become enslaved to Europe – servitude that intrudes and impinges on millions of British lives every day. Brussels has become a burdensome yoke, disfiguring Britain's independence and diluting her sovereignty...
The Coalition should agree to a referendum on Europe asking whether Britain should be part of a political union or of the trade-only relationship we thought we had signed up to. [emphasis added]
In America, this would probably be someone up for re-election throwing red meat to the rubes. In England, however, the system works differently. The Prime Minister isn't elected directly by the people. He is appointed by the Queen, but he has to have the support of a majority of the members of Parliament (MPs), a little like our Speaker of the House of Representatives who's elected by his own Congress.
Like the Speaker, the Prime Minister is generally the leader of the majority party. Just at the moment, though, there is no majority party; at the last election, the voters split between three major parties. Prime Minister David Cameron is a member of the Conservative, or Tory, Party, but he became Prime Minister with the support of the Liberal Democrats.
The coalition government is working about as well as the party names would imply. Conservative voters are furious that the Government they nominally run isn't the least bit conservative, and Lib Dem voters complain that it's not liberal enough. At any time, Parliament can call for a vote of confidence; if the Prime Minister loses the vote, he's no longer Prime Minister. If there's nobody else who can gather a majority, all of Parliament goes back for a snap re-election.
If Mr. Pritchard has enough MPs willing to put their seats on the line, he absolutely has the power to bring down David Cameron's government and trigger a new election. Considering the outrages shoved down British throats by the EC and combined with the massive upcoming bill to bail out Greece, Italy, Ireland, Spain, France, and who knows who else which the chattering classes expect the British taxpayer to cover, Pritchard might have a winning argument.
America's elites sneered when Texas Governor Rick Perry mused about secession. Wouldn't it be something if England actually did secede from the EU, restoring final authority to the British people's elected representatives in Parliament and telling the Brussels bureaucrats to stick their inane orders where the sun don't shine?