Dutch voters reject EU treaty by referendum

The HAGUE – Dutch voters rejected the EU Association Treaty with the Ukraine by with 38.1% in favour last night. Since the electoral threshold of 30% has been reached, the Dutch government now has to reconsider ratifying the treaty.

Yesterday’s vote was an advisory referendum, meaning that the results do not legally compel the cabinet to act, but Prime Minister Rutte believes the vote should have consequences. ‘The question remains whether the turnout is sufficient,’ Rutte said in an interview with the NOS. ‘If that is the case, with such a large majority against the treaty, its ratification cannot simply go on.’

Other political parties have articulated similar views. It is thus likely that the debate will be reopened next week, NRC Handelsblad reports.

Referendum initiator Thierry Baudet pushed the government to take action at the Forum of Democracy, an independent think tank opposed to the treaty. Opponents of the referendum question its legitimacy. ‘Yesterday showed us that the Dutch referendum system does not work,’ local leader Willemijn Kadijk of the leftist youth organisation DWARS said in an interview. ‘Not only was the referendum not about the real issues, strategic voting disadvantaged those in favour of the treaty. If we get another referendum, this must improve.’

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