Dutch Vote on EU Constitution
The Netherlands is expected to join France today in rejecting the EU Constitution.
The Dutch voted in their first national referendum on Wednesday, choosing whether to accept a proposed European Union constitution. Polls indicated the Netherlands would be the second country in four days to reject the idea. Recent surveys have shown almost 60 percent of voters will say no to the proposal. Following France’s rejection of the charter on Sunday, a Dutch repudiation would leave Europe’s leaders with no clear backup plan for what to do when two of the 25-nation union’s members say they won’t approve the new ground rules.
“Let’s not let ourselves be led by polls,” Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said Tuesday in a last-minute plea for a yes vote. “Let’s hope that when they’re in the voting booth, people think about all the people that say this constitution would be a positive development.”
Dutch supporters Ã¢€” including both Balkenende’s conservative government and the main opposition Labor Party Ã¢€” say the constitution would streamline decision making in the union and create a single foreign minister to give Europe more sway in international affairs.
The referendum is nonbinding, but Dutch leaders have pledged to accept it as long as the result is clear and turnout is above 30 percent. “I think it’s a good thing if there’s a strong Europe,” said Jaena Padberg, an early yes voter outside a busy voting station at a community school in Amsterdam. “It’s good that our rights will be secured.”
Opponents fear that the Netherlands, a nation of just 16 million, will be engulfed by a superstate headquartered in Brussels and dominated by Germany, France and Britain.
A not unreasonable fear, except that France has also rejected the treaty.