Minister says referendum law needs revising; 30% threshold ‘an issue’



Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk plans to look again at the Dutch referendum law in the light of Wednesday’s vote, but has acknowledged that the government must take the ‘no’ result into account.

However, many of the rules surrounding the referendum are confusing and should be looked at again in the light of future votes, he told Radio 1 on Thursday.

In particular the fact that 30% of the electorate must turn out to vote for the referendum to have any legal weight needs re-examining, he said. The 30% threshold could be a reason for many people to stay away in the hope of rendering the vote invalid, he said.

Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, many people were calling for a boycott because they do not support referendums in general or opposed the way the organisers had gathered the votes needed for it to be held.

In 2014, the Dutch approved legislation to allow ‘advisory referendums’ on controversial topics, if supporters can gather 300,000 signatures.


The campaign to hold a referendum was launched by shock blog GeenStijl, think-tank Forum voor Democratie and the Burgercomité EU association in September 2015.

They have since admitted the aim of the referendum was to force discussion about Dutch membership of the EU, not Ukraine.

The European parliament is also said to be investigating a payment to GeenStijl which it used to buy a page advert in the Telegraaf newspaper appealing for support for the referendum campaign. The money came from a parliament think-tank and the payment is thought to conflict with EU rules.

There was also much criticism of the way €2m was handed out to companies and private individuals to use to campaign for and against the treaty. In particular, a payment of nearly €50,000 to a private firm to print toilet roles with anti-Ukraine statements came under fire. has been free for 12 years, but now we are asking our readers to help. Your donation will enable us to keep providing you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch.
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