News

EU Constitution Battleground Moves to the Netherlands

Roger Wilkison

Election billboard calling on the Dutch electorate to vote against the European Union constitution in Amsterdam
As Dutch leaders make an 11th hour plea for a "yes" vote on the EU Constitution in Wednesday's referendum, opinion surveys in The Netherlands are predicting that a public disillusioned with Europe will reject the charter by an even larger margin than the stunning "no" delivered by French voters on Sunday.

Supporters of the European Union's draft constitution in the Netherlands concede that they are fighting a losing battle. For weeks, now, polls have shown that between 52- and 60-percent of the voters will cast a "no" vote. Foreign Minister Bernard Bot says the "no" vote in France was a big setback for proponents of the constitution in the Netherlands.

"All the polls indicated that if the French would have said 'yes', the Dutch, by a narrow margin would also have said 'yes'," he said. "But you see now the immediate effect in the polls of the French negative outcome also in the Netherlands. The figures are going up again for the 'no' camp. At the moment, it looks as if it is going to be a 'no' vote."

Like other EU leaders, Mr. Bot says that, even if Dutch voters turn down the constitution, other EU member states should continue the ratification process. But diplomats in Brussels say privately that if two of the six founding members of the EU, France and the Netherlands, reject the treaty, there is no point in going ahead with ratification elsewhere.

As was the case with French voters, the Dutch are angry at the political establishment in their country. Even though they have been among the strongest proponents of a united Europe, the Dutch are uneasy about the way Europe is going, and ordinary citizens seem bitter that they have not been given a say in such matters as the introduction of the euro, the EU single currency, which many blame for price rises.

Many also think their country contributes too much to the EU budget. And many others are concerned about what they see as uncontrolled immigration, especially from Muslim lands, which some blame on the EU.

Foreign Minister Bot admits that he and other political leaders have misread the concerns of voters about the effects of the EU on their daily lives.

"People have the feeling that they are being ruled from Brussels, that they have no say in the matter of enlargement, the euro, etcetera, which has, in itself, been beneficial because that is the interesting paradox, that all of these elements have brought prosperity to Europe, and particularly to the Netherlands, but, obviously, the general feeling is that it has been a disadvantageous business, let's say, for them as private citizens. And that, I think, we should have been able to explain in a better and more consistent way," said Foreign Minister Bot.

The referendum in the Netherlands is non-binding, but the government has vowed to respect it as long as the turnout is above 30 percent and the "no" side garners at least 55 percent of the vote. Unlike what occurred in France, the government says it will not resign if the constitution is defeated.

 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs