Constitution opponents demand political scalps
31 May 2005, AMSTERDAM — Opponents of the EU Constitution believe the Cabinet should accept the 'political consequences' if the Netherlands votes no at Wednesday's referendum.
31 May 2005
AMSTERDAM — Opponents of the EU Constitution believe the Cabinet should accept the 'political consequences' if the Netherlands votes no at Wednesday's referendum.
Political parties will debate the plebiscite's result in Parliament on Thursday and opposition MPs could demand the resignation of various government ministers.
Independent ring-wing MP Geert Wilders is calling for the entire cabinet to resign, while the populist LPF has placed the future of Foreign Affairs Minister Ben Bot up for discussion.
The LPF said opposition leaders Wouter Bos (Labour PvdA) and Femke Halsema (green-left GroenLinks) should also resign. Both parties have waged a campaign in favour of the constitution.
The Socialist SP and small Christian party SGP will accept the resignation of European Affairs State Secretary Atzo Nicolai should the Dutch public vote against the treaty.
In France, Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin resigned following his nation's 'non' vote on Sunday. He was replaced on Tuesday by Dominique de Villepin, formerly the French interior minister.
However, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has said a 'no vote' in the Netherlands will not signify political consequences for the Dutch government.
This is despite the fact the cabinet has waged an aggressive campaign to convince voters to back the EU treaty, warning that Europe could spiral into war if the constitution is rejected.
On the other hand, opponents are concerned about the Netherlands losing power to the EU, Turkey's entry to the union and the expensive euro currency.
Campaigners were busy trying to convince voters of their arguments on the eve of the referendum, but it appeared to be an uphill battle for the yes camp with opinion polls predicting a large majority to reject the constitution.
However, a TNS NIPO survey on Tuesday indicated a closing gap between the yes and no camps.
It said 37 percent of voters will back the constitution, 51 percent will vote no and 12 percent of voters have not made up their mind.
Polling booths will be open from 7.30am to 9pm on Wednesday. The Dutch public can vote yes or no, but they can also opt to turn in a blank ballot paper.
The referendum is of an advisory nature, but the major political parties have said they will accept its outcome if more than 30 percent of voters cast their ballot.
MPs will then decide the matter in the Dutch Parliament.
The aim of the constitution is to streamline EU institutions after the 'Big Bang' expansion last year. Member states can ratify the constitution via a referendum or parliamentary vote.
Nine countries have already voted yes, France has rejected the constitution and eight national referendums are still to come.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news