Tuesday 02 June 2020

Coalition stands firm: no referendum over plans to scrap referendum law

The Dutch papers the day after the Ukraine referendum result

The coalition government is pressing ahead with its plans to scrap advisory referendums from the statute books and will not sanction a referendum on the plans, home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren told MPs on Tuesday evening.

The minister came under particularly heavy fire during a second stormy debate on the issue because her party D66 had for a long time made referendums a central part of their policy.

Opposition parties are furious that Ollongren has refused to allow a referendum on the plan even though her position has been upheld by the Council of State.

However, a motion of no confidence in the minister, put forward by Forum voor Democratie leader Thierry Baudet, was only supported by the anti-Islam PVV and the pro-animal PvdD.

MPs will vote on the decision to scrap referendums on Thursday, after which it will be referred to the upper house of parliament.

There has only been one advisory referendum since the legislation was introduced several years ago – the 2016 vote on the EU’s treaty with Ukraine. Some 2.5 million people voted in the referendum, taking the turnout just over the 30% required for the result to have legal standing.

One more referendum will take place – on giving new phone and internet tapping powers to the security services – at the same time as the local elections on March 21.

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