PM rules out television plea on EU Constitution
27 May 2005, AMSTERDAM — Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has ruled out following French President Jacques Chirac and making a personal plea on television for voters to back the EU Constitution.
27 May 2005
AMSTERDAM — Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has ruled out following French President Jacques Chirac and making a personal plea on television for voters to back the EU Constitution.
"I am not a president, but the prime minister of a coalition Cabinet," Balkenende said on Friday.
He also said the campaign is not only about what the cabinet thinks and he stressed there was broad support among political and social groups for a 'yes vote' at the 1 June referendum on the constitution.
Balkenende also said Queen Beatrix — a head of state like President Chirac — will not give a personal address to the nation either.
Dutch polls are tipping a majority to vote against the constitution and the Dutch government is pulling out all stops to convince the public to do otherwise.
However, European Affairs State Secretary Atzo Nicolai — who is leading the government's 'yes' campaign — said a personal plea would not be a good idea.
"Dutch people prefer a discussion," he said.
And Nicolai personally prefers a debate also: "You are more credible if the public hears the pro and anti arguments next to each other".
With polls tipping French voters to reject the EU constitution at a referendum on 29 May, President Chirac appeared on television on Thursday night urging the public to vote 'oui'.
He said the referendum should not be abused as a way to express dissatisfaction with the French government.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news