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The first point to make is that the referendum vote in Holland wasn’t really about its ostensible subject at all – that’s to say, the EU’s proposed trade deal with Ukraine.

Rather, it was – like Denmark’s rejection of EU rules on cross-border policing last December, or Greece’s referendum last July – essentially a wider protest against the union.

No wonder the EU institutions hate referendums – remember the Irish rejection of the Nice Treaty, the wafer-thin French yes to Maastricht, and the Danes’ original thumbs-down to the same treaty.

And no wonder, therefore, that this latest piece of naysaying (the Dutch turned the deal down by 61 per cent to 31 per cent) came about as the result of a petition, itself the product of a new pro-democracy law in Holland.

The vote isn’t binding, and it isn’t clear as I write whether the country’s Government will bow to the result, which was gained on a turnout of 32 per cent – just above the required 30 per cent threshold.

The pro-deal campaign seems to have gambled on the turnout being lower, and lost.  Such is the continent-wide backdrop of discontent against which our own referendum in June will be set.

 

 

33 comments for: First, Greece. Then Denmark. Now Holland. The latest democratic thumbs-down protest against the EU

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