Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Dutch Say: No!

On the heels of Monday's stunning rejection of the proposed European Union constitution by French voters, today the Dutch have followed suit and voted overwhelmingly against the constitution. Turnout in the Netherlands was even greater than first thought, apparently adding to the "No" vote's margin of victory.

Exit polls suggest 63% voted "No" in the referendum. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who urged a "Yes" vote, says he will respect the result.

The BBC's William Horsley in Brussels says the ballot has probably delivered a death blow to the constitution, at least in its present form.

It was also rejected by the French in a vote on Sunday.

Mr Balkenende said he was "very disappointed" with the result.

The vote was consultative, and not legally binding, but Mr Balkenende said his government would honour it.

The Dutch and French rejection of the EU constitution represents a crushing blow to Jacques Chirac and the Brussels Eurocrats who hoped to create a European superstate to rival the US. French and Dutch voters expressed deep dissatisfaction with their faltering domestic economies and feared that the emergence of an englarged European Union would threaten their welfare states and national identities. In both France and the Netherlands, a growing awareness of the threat posed to their cultural characters by Muslim immigrants also played a role in building strenght for the "no" votes, since it was generally assumed that EU enlargement would ultimately result in the admission of Muslim Turkey, a state with a culture utterly alien to that of liberal Europe. French and Dutch voters correctly perceived Turkey's admission as a dire threat to European culture and rebuked their Euro-enthusiast leaders accordingly.


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