Legal bid to rein in State's EU campaign
23 May 2005, AMSTERDAM — Just days after new polls indicated voters in the Netherlands are increasingly opposed to the EU Constitution, a committee of 'no' voters has lodged legal action against the Dutch State.
23 May 2005
AMSTERDAM — Just days after new polls indicated voters in the Netherlands are increasingly opposed to the EU Constitution, a committee of 'no' voters has lodged legal action against the Dutch State.
The No Constitution Committee will argue in a court in The Hague on Tuesday the government's allocation of EUR 3.5 million to the 'yes' campaign for the 1 June referendum is unlawful.
The committee claims Dutch referendum legislation states that only EUR 1 million may be allocated to government campaigns and that the independent referendum commission must divide the funding between the pro and anti-campaigns.
It also claims the funding breaches preconditions the government laid down on possible campaign funding boosts.
The committee will request the court ban the State from using the extra funding, prevent the distribution of a new information brochure and order the removal of pro-constitution television, radio and press commercials.
If the court rules that the committee should be granted equal means to conduct a 'no campaign', it will not demand the aforementioned bans.
The legal action comes after a poll by Maurice de Hond of 2,500 people indicated on Saturday 60 percent of people will vote no and 40 percent will vote yes to the EU constitution. Voter turnout is polled to reach 43 percent.
The higher number of no voters is due the yes campaign: 59 percent of voters said the government's actions in the campaign have had a negative impact.
But recent controversy over the undervaluation of the Dutch guilder when it was traded for the euro has also played a role.
De Hond said there is only a small chance that a turnaround in the electorate will occur to give a majority to the yes campaign at the 1 June advisory plebiscite.
The pollster also said recent events are contributing to a no vote, such as the Eurovision Song Contest.
The poll found 70 percent of people believe the overwhelming number of Eastern European nations in the final is an example of how power has shifted within the EU.
Another poll by the NSS-Interview institute released late on Friday found 63 percent were against the constitution, while 37 percent were in the 'yes' camp.
"The government is very motivated, we are in the final phase and we will do what we can to get the 'yes'," Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said.
However, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he is "extremely concerned" about the latest polls both in the Netherlands and France, where 52 percent of voters are set to vote against the constitution on 29 May.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news