The vote to leave the European Union in Britain is being seen as an added impulse for supporters of a Nexit vote in the Netherlands. And the issue is now even more likely to become a major theme in next year’s general election campaign, politicians and commentators say.
In April, a popular referendum in the Netherlands rejected the EU’s treaty with Ukraine and campaigners said at the time their aim was to force a vote on the Netherlands’s membership of the 27-country block.
However, the legislation which made that referendum possible can only be used to vote on new legislation and treaties, and that is not the case with Dutch membership of the EU. In addition, referendums held using that legislation are only advisory.
The introduction of binding referendums in the Netherlands will require changes to the constitution. That is a lengthy process, requiring two-thirds majority support in both houses of parliament, broadcaster NOS points out.
Most opinion polls show that while there is a lot of support for a referendum in the Netherlands, there is majority support for continued membership of the EU.
Support for Brussels
A TNS Nipo poll earlier in June showed 54% of the Dutch consider themselves a strong or moderate EU supporter while 28% are strongly or mildly opposed.
A poll carried out last month by the Ipsos foundation found a narrow majority of the Dutch do not want the Netherlands to hold a referendum on EU membership. However, if there is a vote, 64% would vote against leaving the EU, the Ipsos poll found.
Even Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigration and anti-EU party PVV, told the Telegraaf this week that ‘without a small miracle, there will be no immediate majority’ [for a Nexit].
Prime minister Mark Rutte said he considered it unlikely that the Netherlands will hold a referendum on Dutch membership of the EU. ‘The Dutch understand that working with other countries in a single market is absolutely essential to our country,’ he said.
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