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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora