Sunday, May 29, 2005
How fragile is Balkanende's ego?

Another non-binding referendum will be held in the Netherlands on the 1st June 2005. Opinion polls indicate that most of the population will reject the European Constitution and predict a 56% turnout. As 127 of the 150 Dutch parliamentarians support the Constitution, they have kindly provided guidelines where they think that they could safely ignore the vote of their electorate.

Unlike France's vote Sunday, the Dutch referendum on June 1 is advisory and non-binding. Balkenende's Christian Democratic Alliance and the Labor Party already have said the vote will be voided if the turnout falls below 30 percent.

As this is unlikely to be the case, Jan Peter Balkanende, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands will find that this threshold is a signal to his political counterparts in other Member States, his "friends", that the Dutch just will not do as they are told. Perhaps instead of sending out coded signals, he might ask his friends to "shut up" as their interventions may prove helpful to us. Here are the usual suspects (oh to line them up against a wall!!!):

Jean Luc Dehaene makes his political forecast:

``If France votes `No' on Sunday, the Netherlands should teach the French a lesson on Wednesday,'' former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene said at a political conference in Utrecht, the Netherlands, today. ``I am convinced the Netherlands will en masse vote in favor of the constitution.``

Dutch politicians fear how they will look in the eyes of Europe if their voters let them down:

Both France and the Netherlands were among the six founding countries of the European Union. Balkenende in an interview with Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad today said he would look ``crazy'' in the European Union if Dutch voters rejected the constitution.

My heart bleeds. One could take a Machiavellian stance, arguing which result would suit the Eurosceptic position in Britain best. These speculations are foolish when we have our own battle to fight. I respect the right of other countries to give these self-selected elites a bloody nose, and, remember, it is best to kick a European pol when they are down.


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