Dutch for "F*** Off"

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Dutch for "F*** Off"

The Dutch joined the French in rejecting the proposed EU Constitution. What most struck me about these two votes was the turnout: more than 70% in France and more than 60% here. The Dutch government had said it would consider heeding the result of the referendum (which is non-binding) if there was at least 30% turnout.

The assumption that few people would care enough to show up was only one of the serious miscalculations in the referendum campaign. A Dutch journalist interviewed on the BBC last night said that the vote showed how great a gap there is between "the establishment" and the rest of the population. By "establishment," he said he meant not only the government, but also the major news media, the main employers' organization, the confederation of trade unions, etc., all of whom supported the constitution. Not only the governing coalition, but also the main opposition party, urged a yes vote.

People's reasons for voting no aren't entirely clear. What is clear, however, is that many voters don't trust their political leaders, aren't happy with the way things have been going, and (in many cases) essentially wanted to do whatever would cause the most trouble for their elected representatives.

Meanwhile, a candidate for Spin of the Week:
The parliamentary leader of [Prime Minister] Balkenende's Christian Democrat CDA, Maxime Verhagen, was also looking on the bright side. He said the referendum was a success because it generated real discussion about Europe.

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