quinta-feira, 7 de abril de 2016
Dutch reject EU-Ukraine deal
Dutch reject EU-Ukraine deal
Turnout projected to be just over the threshold needed to send deal back to parliament.
By CYNTHIA KROET 4/6/16, 9:13 PM CET Updated 4/7/16, 8:18 AM CET
The Dutch government suffered an embarrassing defeat Wednesday as voters overwhelmingly rejected an EU deal with Ukraine, with 61.1 percent voting No, according to public broadcaster NOS.
The vote was seen as a test of public opinion towards the EU and comes less than three months before British citizens decide whether to leave the EU altogether.
Turnout was 32.2 percent, according to NOS, above the 30 percent threshold needed to send the issue back to parliament. Earlier projections had put turnout at just under the 30 percent threshold.
Euroskeptic MEP Nigel Farage, leader of the far-right United Kingdom Independence Party, tweeted his support for the result, saying that he had spoken to the organizers of the petition that led to the Dutch referendum and invited them to the U.K. to discuss Brexit.
“If the Dutch people vote No today, it will be an incentive for the British voters to say no,” Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders said.
Although the result of the referendum is non-binding, Dutch law says that a No vote, combined with a turnout of more than 30 percent, would mean the deal having to be discussed again by parliament.
“We will have to wait and see but it is clear that the No voters won convincingly. The question is whether or not the required turnout will be met,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a televised reaction.
“My view is that if the turnout is more than 30 percent, with such a victory for the No camp, ratification cannot go ahead without discussion.”
The deal — officially an “association agreement” — which aims at improving trade between the EU and Ukraine, provisionally came into force on January 1, but needs to be ratified by all 28 EU members. The Dutch parliament has already backed the deal.
Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party, was quick to take to Twitter after polling finished, saying the result was “great” and hoping that the turnout passed the 30 percent mark.
Emile Roemer, leader of the Socialist Party, said: “I am happy with the result. People wanted to tell the government that Ukraine is too corrupt to sign an agreement with. They also wanted to show that Europe is only there for the elite and multinationals.”
Alexander Pechtold, leader of the liberal D66 party, which supported the deal, said: “I had hoped that the Yes and No vote would have been more tied.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had warned that a Dutch No vote could lead to a “continental crisis.”
“I want the Dutch to understand that the importance of this question goes beyond the Netherlands,” the newspaper NRC quoted Juncker as saying in January.
“I don’t believe the Dutch will say no, because it would open the door to a big continental crisis,” he said. “Russia would pluck the fruits of an easy victory.
It was the first referendum to take place under a Dutch law that obliges the government to call a public vote on any petition that gets the support of 300,000 people. In this case, GeenPeil, an initiative set up by a far-right, Euroskeptic website called GeenStijl, collected more than 400,000 signatures in six weeks last fall.
The vote is an embarrassment for the government as it holds the rotating presidency of the EU’s Council of Ministers, and it brings back painful memories of another EU referendum.
In 2005, the center-right government of Jan Peter Balkenende backed a Yes campaign for plans to give the EU greater powers through a European Constitution, with disastrous results.
More than 60 percent voted No to the constitution, three days after the French also rejected the idea. The level of opposition and the turnout — 62 percent — exceeded all projections.
This story was updated to include new figures.