Suggestions that the cabinet has something to hide because it does not want to hold a referendum on the new European treaty are ‘shameful and a pity’, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende is reported as saying by news agency ANP.
‘Everyone who does not back a referendum is being labelled as undemocratic or compared with Robert Mugabe,’ Balkenende told senators on Monday night.
The prime minister was speaking ahead of today’s vote in the senate on the treaty. The government opposed a referendum, arguing there were no constitutional elements in it. The Dutch rejected the European constitution in a referendum in 2005.
The upper house of parliament is expected to vote in favour of the Lisbon treaty later today, with only the Socialists and the animal rights party (PvdD) senators opposed. The lower house (parliament) voted in favour on June 5.
Today’s vote means the Netherlands is the 21st to approve the treaty. ‘The Netherlands has asked a great deal of flexibility from our partners over the past few years,’ the Volkskrant reports Balkenende as saying. ‘It is right that the Netherlands goes through the [approval] procedure on time and says a resounding ‘yes’ to the treaty.’
Despite SP calls for more time, the ‘no’ in the recent Irish referendum is no reason to delay the Dutch vote, the prime minister said.
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