THE HAGUE/BERLIN (Own report) – The possibility of invalidating the will of the majority is being considered, in view of today’s EU referendum in the Netherlands, where the population will vote on the EU’s Association Agreement with Ukraine. According to polls, the opponents of the agreement were still in the lead. This is even more significant, because the referendum’s initiators see the referendum also as a vote against the EU and the EU oriented elites, who seem to be losing influence over public opinion also in the Netherlands. A subsequent referendum on the Euro, for example, cannot be ruled out. The EU Commission President’s patronizing interventions in the Dutch debate, no longer have an effect. Proponents of the EU’s association agreement are, therefore, using anti-Russia sentiments and threat scenarios to try to reach their goals, warning that a “No” would strengthen “Putin.” The CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation points out that the referendum is non-binding and could be ignored by the government in The Hague. A negative outcome of the referendum could also possibly be nullified with a “technical solution.” German media are debating the very principle of national referendums on EU issues, calling them a “minority tyranny.”
Targeting EU Elites
The citizens of the Netherlands are voting in a referendum today on the EU’s Association Agreement with Ukraine. The deal already had been approved last year by the Dutch parliament and, to a large extent, implemented since January 1. However, according to a provision introduced in the Netherlands on July 1, 2015, a referendum can re-evaluate legislation recently passed by parliament. Originally, this new provision was to counter the significantly increasing alienation from the political elites in a growing segment of the population (“disenchantment with politics”), which is accompanied by a loss of influence. In this case, however, the EU elites’ central expansion project is being unexpectedly put into question. A rejection of the Association Agreement with Ukraine would have to be considered as a clear rejection of the entire German/EU policy toward Eastern Europe over the past few years. In fact, the referendum’s initiators are pursuing even more ambitious goals. Being critical of the EU, they hope to mobilize the population not only against the association agreement but also against the alliance itself, and are already eyeing the possibility of subsequent referendums, for example against the Euro.
Resentment as an Instrument of Influence
To compensate for the establishment’s loss of influence, those favoring the EU’s Association Agreement with Ukraine are currently playing the anti-Russia card. Whoever rejects the agreement, strengthens “Putin,” it is widely claimed. Anti-Russian sentiments and specters of ambiguous threat scenarios are used, in hopes of mobilizing and compelling the population to once again align itself with the establishment’s political agenda. This technique of argumentation is beginning to take hold also in other EU member countries – including Germany. “Let’s say Vladimir Putin would be interested in further exacerbating the controversy with the European Union,” asked a recent news article in a German journal – couldn’t he do it by initiating a referendum on the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine in the Netherlands? Although the author must admit that there is “no evidence” that the referendum’s initiators were influenced by Moscow, “however, even if the plot did not originate in Moscow,” the article continues, “it is obviously playing into the Kremlin’s hands.”
In case these threats and the incitement of anti-Russian hostility prove insufficient to induce the Dutch population to vote “Yes,” other considerations have long since been elaborated for dealing with a possible “No” vote. According to the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the referendum is “non-binding.” “The Dutch government is not obligated to implement the results.” However, The Hague is advising the use of caution. “To declare already that we will not accept a “No” vote, would show an arrogance that we are unaccustomed to,” Foreign Minister Bert Koenders was quoted to have said. But a “technical solution,” for example, a sort of “adjustment protocol.” on the other hand, is, of course worth considering. Besides, Brussels has experience with “technical solutions.” Thus, following the negative referendum results in France (May 29, 2005) and the Netherlands (June 1, 2005), the aborted EU Constitution was minimally modified and re-introduced as the “Lisbon Treaty,” albeit, this time, (except in Ireland) without referendums. Ireland’s two negative referendums (June 7, 2001 – Treaty of Nice, and June 12, 2008 the Lisbon Treaty) were repeated (October 19, 2002 and October 2, 2009), following comprehensive indoctrination of the country’s insubordinate citizenry. Both repetitions gave the desired results. The July 5, 2015 Greek referendum shows that it also poses no problem simply to invalidate the referendum results.