Press review: Dutch pull EU emergency brake

2nd June 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 June 2005, AMSTERDAM — National newspapers in the Netherlands have described the massive 'no' vote in Wednesday's referendum as the public pulling hard on a symbolic emergency brake to halt the hectic pace of European expansion.

2 June 2005

AMSTERDAM — National newspapers in the Netherlands have described the massive 'no' vote in Wednesday's referendum as the public pulling hard on a symbolic emergency brake to halt the hectic pace of European expansion.

The result also indicates a serious loss of confidence in the centre-right coalition government of Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, the papers say.

Rotterdam-based daily 'Algemeen Dagblad' says the outcome of the vote cannot go unheard. It was a slap in the face for Balkenende and Foreign Minister Ben Bot. The AD said Bot should do the honourable thing and resign.

'De Telegraaf', the biggest selling populist daily that took a pro-constitution stance, feels the established order has suffered a horrific result. Apart from the Cabinet, the three parties in the coalition and the opposition parties have to take the result seriously.

The government's lack of popularity played no small part in the defeat. Yet, the paper says, because the referendum was not about the government, there is no need for it to take the consequences and resign.

Left-leaning daily 'De Volkskrant' says supporters of all the main parties were to be found in the 'no' camp. "No matter how bitter the fruit is for Balkenende, he can do nothing else in Brussels than act as translator for the Dutch people's displeasure," it says.

'De Volkskrant' goes on to accuse Balkenende of failing to provide leadership during the referendum campaign and of giving the impression he did not find the referendum all that important.

A comment in liberal daily 'Trouw' argues that the Dutch no vote was not a no to Europe as a whole. It was, however, a clear sign that the public is concerned about the development of the European Union. Politicians have to sit down and consider the question of how to proceed, the newspaper writes. 

Financial paper 'Het Financieele Dagblad' accuses the government of failing in the campaign.

The result illustrates, the paper writes, that there is a large discrepancy between what the political elite think is good for the Netherlands and what many citizens think.

The 'no' to the EU Constitution was an opportunity for the voters to express unhappiness about the fast pace of expansion of the EU and the steep price rises that followed the introduction of the euro currency, 'Het Financieele Dagblad' says.

The Christian 'Het Nederlands Dagblad' said the voters have made clear their lack of confidence in the political elite "who cook up a bureaucratic brew in their ivory towers and try to force it down the throats of the ordinary people".

But the conclusion that the Dutch rejection is the final blow for the constitution is premature, the paper adds.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news, EU Constitution, Dutch referendum

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