Dutch PM urges 'ja' vote despite French 'non'

30th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

30 May 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government has reacted with disappointment to the French 'no vote' against the EU Constitution, resolutely urging the nation's voters to vote 'yes' at its referendum on Wednesday.

30 May 2005

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government has reacted with disappointment to the French 'no vote' against the EU Constitution, resolutely urging the nation's voters to vote 'yes' at its referendum on Wednesday.

"We must not let ourselves be influenced by the French," Christian Democrat CDA Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said, quoting former Belgian leader Jean-Luc Dehaene that the Netherlands should teach French voters a lesson.

Balkenende said the French no vote is more of a reason for the Dutch to vote yes. "The Netherlands now plays an important role. We must be conscious of our own interest and say yes," he said, adding that a no vote could cost the nation influence within the EU.

Dutch opponents to the constitution welcomed the French result, with the Socialist SP stressing that it brought a Dutch 'no' victory a step closer.

A majority of French voters (55 percent) voted against the proposed EU constitution in a referendum on Sunday. Voter turnout of 70 percent was exceptionally high.

Dutch opposition Labour PvdA leader Wouter Bos said there were a variety of reasons why French voters said no to the constitution, a situation similar to the Netherlands. He said both left and right-wing French voters rejected the constitution.

Democrat D66 MP Boris van der Ham said the Netherlands must show its independence now. Doing so, he said, is the only way to reduce the EUR 40 billion in agriculture subsidies and the Dutch contribution to the EU budget.

EU sources in Brussels believe the French 'non' vote will influence Dutch voters. "I know for certain that a yes in France would have been an enormous boost to the 'yes camp' in the Netherlands," a disappointed Dutch diplomat said.

Polls are already tipping Dutch voters to reject the constitution at the referendum on Wednesday. This is despite a late surge in voters opting to vote yes at the advisory plebiscite.

Dutch Liberal VVD leader in the European Parliament Jules Maarten said voters should vote yes to isolate France and restrict the no vote to just one country. The VVD leader in the Netherlands, Jozias van Aartsen, also urged voters to back the constitution.

All 25 EU member states must approve of the constitution for it to be implemented. Nine countries have already said yes via parliament or a referendum, while France was the first nation to vote no. Eight national referendums are still to come.

And despite welcoming the French result, Socialist MP Harry van Bommel was not celebrating just yet. He said the Dutch government could do something very unexpected in the days leading up to the referendum.

Populist LPF parliamentary leader Gerard van As said: "Vive la France, vive la République, long live the Netherlands, long live the Kingdom". He also said France, like the Netherlands, wanted to retain its sovereignty

Meanwhile, French President Jacques Chirac said he accepted the voters' "sovereign decision", but warned it created "a difficult context for the defence of our interests in Europe". Nevertheless, "I respect your opinion. France will keep its place in the EU", he said.

Chirac also said he would take a decision on the future of his centre-right government in coming days. It could spell the end for unpopular Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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