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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 June, 2005, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
What does Dutch 'No' vote mean?
A woman enters a polling station in Amsterdam
Voters in the Netherlands have firmly rejected the European Union constitution.

Provisional final results indicated that 61.6% of voters said "No" to the charter and 38.4% approved it in the referendum on Wednesday.

The vote was not binding, but Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he would respect the result.

Did you vote in the referendum? Will the ratification of the treaty continue in other countries? What is the next step for the EU constitution?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

I wish I had the right to vote "No" too. The Greek parliament voted "Yes" without asking Greek citizens. We are also misinformed. The politicians must explain to us how expanding the EU will help our unemployment, our economy etc. The same way our politicians must explain how the new constitution will improve the living standards for the current EU countries. In Greece we were always proud to be members of the EU family but now I feel jealous because the French and the Dutch had the opportunity to say "No" to the EU politicians. Good work guys!
Virginia, Greece

The results are in and it is a big fat no
Pepijn, Hillegom
The results are in and it is a big fat no, supported by a big turn-out. I voted no even though I'm a strong supporter of an united Europe but I cannot vote yes on such an unwieldy piece of legislature. A constitution needs to be understandable, not an inches thick document that is a compromise of years of debate. I do think that the result of the vote is largely based on a general feeling of dissatisfaction with the current government.
Pepijn, Hillegom

63% to 37%? That was to be expected. How can one vote for a incomprehensible constitution on something that doesn't even exist? There is no union in Europe, which is deeply divided and cannot even agree on a common foreign and defence policy, let alone a military force capable of actual combat. What does exist, however, is the Common Market which will continue to function. Can the current European disunion be replaced one day by a real union? Perhaps, but for that to occur people would have to start thinking of themselves and identify as Europeans first, not as French, German, British, Polish, etc. which is a case today. It is not impossible, but it will take time and have to be a gradual process.
Meerkat, Alexandria, VA, USA

A yes vote has the advantage of being clear. A no vote creates a new question. A question that has to be answered. What part of the constitution treaty can stay, what part should be changed? And how should it be changed. I think a second referendum is unavoidable.
Jan Feytens, Antwerp Belgium

The Dutch and French have made the correct decision. A country shouldn't voluntarily surrender sovereignty, regardless of the potential financial benefit. Unfortunately the rejection will not solve the basic problem of a non-competitive welfare based work environment which is not sustainable in the 21st century.
Jack Arata, New York, USA

This is the final blow to the constitution
Michael Koumenides, Nicosia, Cyprus
This is the final blow to the constitution. Europe has spoken loud and clear. It is time for change or else the EU cannot survive.
Michael Koumenides, Nicosia, Cyprus

There is simply insufficient democracy in the EU for it to survive. For too long it has been run by a small unrepresentative and unaccountable "elite". The combined effect of the French and Dutch vote may allow this to be corrected. Lets hope so.
Cliff, Gravesend UK

It must be an odd feeling - going out to vote in favour or against a constitution, since the French result, is effectively dead anyway.
Tony Stephenson, Newcastle upon Tyne, England

I think the Dutch and French vote was great. For the first time, the people have let their views known about the EU. It all begs the question: Was the EU ever wanted by the middle class of Europe?
Steve Lowery, Los Angeles, USA

It's not that I am against Europe, but I am against this constitution
Erik, IJsselstein, Netherlands
I've voted a strong 'No' today. It's not that I am against Europe, but I am against this constitution. I often hear that a No vote is a vote against Europe or the Euro, but I think this is not the case (at least for me). There are factual arguments against this constitution (liberalisation is for me the main argument against) and I've heard no factual argument in favour.
Erik, IJsselstein, Netherlands

I have voted 'Ja' because I think this draft constitution does improve some things in Europe and won't turn Europe into the monster many 'Nee' campaigners have made out of it. But three days after the French 'Non', which I do respect, it feels like I'm voting on a dying patient. And I think my feeling is right.
Phil, Den Haag, Netherlands

United we stand, divided we fall. If Europe wants to be taken as a serious global player, economically and otherwise, we have to unite or we will fall behind the other major global players like the U.S, Japan or China. I think we have to decide what we want but to stay as small states is not an option. The problem is we all have had far too many bad experiences with each other in the past that we don't seems to be able to let go of.
Matt, London

I voted "JA". I think it is foolish to let the voting on the EU constitution be led by the disillusion with the Balkenede administration. There will be an opportunity to change the government, in 2007 if the cabinet doesn't fall before. The constitution is not perfect, but it never will be as it has to be a consensus. As it stands it appears to improve the democratic transparency. Spelling out constitutional rights is always worthwhile, especially when dealing with potentially problematic new countries joining, like Turkey.
Linda, Cambridge, UK/Amsterdam, NL

I live in Amsterdam and have done the past four years. My girlfriend, a Dutch lawyer, was in the dressing room of a department store the other day when she overheard two shop assistants. One saying to the other "Which way are you voting?". "I'm going to vote No" says the second. First: "Why?" Second:" Because everyone wants us to vote Yes". This is the mentality we are dealing with here.
Simon Goetzel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

They are using the wrong means to voice their dissatisfaction
Miklos, Leiden, Netherlands
I think that many people will voice their malcontent (over the euro and the economy) with a "No'. And that is a pity, because I think that they are using the wrong means to voice their dissatisfaction, and thereby possibly jeopardising future Dutch credibility in the EU.
Miklos, Leiden, Netherlands

As a Dutchman in Sweden (so not able to vote) I would have voted 'no', but with mixed feelings about it. The problems I have with the proposed constitution are that it gives even more power to 'Bruxelles'. In itself it would be good if the European Parliament had more power, as they might have been able to (for instance) keep the European Commission from ramming through the 'software patents' proposal. Had the constitution been limited to making the EU a more democratic institution I would have voted 'yes', but alas...
Frank de Lange, Sweden

I have struggled to understand the Dutch consensus on the EU vote. Is it a vote on the EU constitution or is this an opportunity for the disgruntled masses to push their own agenda? Referendums are a precarious form of people politics.
Niall, Leiden, Netherlands (ex-UK)

I voted 'no' on the constitution, because I don't want to increase the military capacity here and because I think it is not democratic (because the parliament cannot propose policy and cannot send a commission member home). The campaign here in the Netherlands was terrible. They tried scaring no-voters into voting yes and pretended that all no-voters were going to vote no for reasons outside of the referendum. This has done the yes-side no good.
Jesse, Utrecht, Netherlands

It's a shame when my country rejects this constitution. People, for example, fear that the country will lose its influence in the Union with this constitution. But saying no to this, takes away our voice and we will indeed lose our say. So my vote's a YES this afternoon!
Jorn, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

What we are doing is asking for clarification
Johan Pranger, Utrecht, The Netherlands
We in Holland are neither accepting nor rejecting the EU constitution. What we are doing is asking for clarification. We have never been informed or consulted in all these years regarding the EU, at all. Now the government has proposed a 2 inch thick constitution and given the Dutch citizens a 3 page pamphlet explaining the whys and why nots. We in Holland have been ill-informed and mis-informed for two decades and the result is that we now have a monster in Brussels (or is it Strasbourg?). I urge the British to debate more and demand more before they decide.
Johan Pranger, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Have just been to the Netherlands for the past week. Wherever people were talking about the EU referendum the general opinion was that they would say no. Also, it seems a higher percentage of people are voting in this referendum, than generally do for national/regional and local elections. Maybe it's due to everything that has happened in the country over the past couple of years (political murders, growing intolerance, change to euro currency etc). Dutch citizens are fed up with being part of Europe and being controlled by some far and distant euro-government as well as feeling they have to finance poorer Euro-members. Being Dutch myself and moving to the UK has solved that problem for me.
Amber, Bournemouth, UK

Whatever happens today, the 'no' camp will wake up tomorrow with the Netherlands still a member of the EU, an unwieldy and impersonal organisation which is palpably not living up to its original ideals. At some point the No campaigners will have to start presenting some positive and new proposals for the future of Europe, rather than relying on a negative rhetoric based on rejection.
Rob Oliver, Leiden, Netherlands

I have voted JA/ YES, because I am convinced that this draft constitution is at least a step forward on the road to European integration. I don't want a federalist Europe, but we will have to increase the level of cooperation if we want to achieve anything in this globalising world. I'll vote against our present government in our next general election, whenever that may come!
Hans Hulswit, Papendrecht, Netherlands

Living in the States, I'm used to scary politicians. Mr Balkenende has underestimated the Dutch - we will not be scared! NO it is!
Nanda, NJ, USA/ ex NL

I think the Dutch will definitely and definitively vote NO. Since moving to the Netherlands ten years ago I've seen amazing changes most particularly in Dutch attitudes towards foreigners and therefore how they see themselves. Once a open society with a large national door open to others less fortunate than themselves the Dutch now think themselves as a nation threatened by an uncontrollable influx of both legal and illegal outsiders which have cost the taxpayer both in his pocket and with the decreasing quality and reliability of social services. The NO will reflect this fear rather than indicate whether or not the EU constitution should be ratified.
P. M., Rotterdam, Netherlands

It is a shame that people are using their vote for the wrong reason
Wies, Reading, Berkshire
As a Dutch woman living in the UK at the moment, I am sorry to see that my fellow countrymen have become so negative about the EU and especially about this constitution. I think it is a shame that people are using their vote for the wrong reason, which is, to vote 'no' just because they want to show our politicians that they disagree with the euro or Turkey joining, or that they feel Holland is losing its identity. Come on! That's not what this referendum is about! It simply asks you if you think we should ratify the constitution - which is about streamlining the EU after last year's enlargement.
Wies, Reading, Berkshire

Most politicians in the news seem to think that there is no solution to the current crisis because populations of different countries and groups within them have wildly different views on the future direction of the Union. Well, one way out could be that the EU takes its guiding principle of subsidiarity much more serious than it has done so far. And it would also help if the countries would no longer keep themselves busy competing for money handed out by Brussels. They might find time to solve the big issues together!
Cees de Valk, Den Haag, Netherlands

Today, I'll also be voting against the constitution. The EU started as an agreement on economical affairs and that's what it should be, nothing more, nothing less.
Irene Schipper, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I lived in Holland with my family for 20 years as a European Civil Servant. The experience has left us with a love of the country such that we return every year to see friends. Since the euro decision I hear massive complaints from them that they were lied to about the effects. The country always had jobs, a solid currency, trade surplus and is now in annual debt. The Dutch will rightly vote "Nee" and not be scared to do so.
Robin, Abingdon, UK

I think (and hope) the outcome will be a definite 'no'. Hopefully this will force both the Dutch and Brussels politicians to start doing the thing they're being paid for, to stop ignoring the people and to regret the condescending sneers they directed towards the no-voters.
Helen, Amsterdam, Netherlands

I do not know what to vote
Bruce Michielsen, Nijmegen, Netherlands
I have deeply reflected on my choice, listened to politicians etc on the radio and on the television. I have read the papers and discussed with friends and colleagues. I consider myself an average person. Yet after all this, I do not know what to vote. Maybe that is a message in itself?
Bruce Michielsen, Nijmegen, Netherlands

People are mistaken if they think a NEE is a No against Europe. It's not. But I'm fed up with the money wasting and arrogance from overpaid people discussing chocolate cigarettes and things like that. The EU is ok, as long as it goes about economic cooperation. The EU of this moment isn't about that. Besides, the Constitution, (Grondwet in Dutch Main Law) isn't a Constitution at all. So why vote for something not real?
N. Klaus, Dordrecht

The EU constitution is part of a process. It is this process that made me vote NO. We cannot operate without a united Europe - it guarantees prosperity and peace. But expanding the EU with 10 new members in combination with more subjects to discuss in Brussels is too much to handle. Keep the EU small in number of countries or limit the competence of the EU to defence, economics, foreign affairs and environment. And why don't we have a referendum on the EU constitution throughout Europe, all in the same way and on the same day?
Paul de Bruijn, Netherlands

I don't think the constitution has a hope of being passed
Jeremy Sharpe, Utrecht, NL
As an English guy working here in NL, I conducted a highly unscientific poll in my local last night. I don't think the constitution has a hope of being passed. The main reason? The patronising tone of the Ja camp, compared with actual arguments from the Nee side.
Jeremy Sharpe, Utrecht, NL

Of course I am in favour of European cooperation, as this is necessary. But to me it appears that a European Constitution is a preamble to the founding of a federal European state. Because of the variety in language, culture and history between the independent European states I think this is undesirable. Therefore I voted no.
Robin S. Mulder, Pijnacker, Netherlands

Presumably the Netherlands will follow France and vote no. One comment from a British-born Europhile, looking on at a distance from Jerusalem. When British politicians travel to France to join in the "no" campaign there, and when Dutch and French voters look at each other and listen to each other's arguments, and when the French referendum is followed closely in Britain ... then whatever way the vote goes, hasn't anyone notice that Europe is indeed a reality?
Paul Rose, Jerusalem

Based on initial reactions I am afraid that my fellow countrymen will vote "no" today. Unfortunately most people will have voted no for the wrong reasons as they base their vote on disagreement with our current government, disagreement with EU policies and xenophobic fears. Too few people realise that with the current constitution you will get a leaner, more transparent and thus less costly EU.
Stefan, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The European constitution is a threat to the independence of our liberal and democratic country. If the bureaucracy in Brussels - the headquarters of the EU - becomes more powerful, that will mean a loss of individual freedom and rights. The constitution only serves the interests of multinationals and the happy few. Moreover, our very unpopular PM JP Balkenende, our Harry Potter look-alike, should be given a clear message from his own countrymen that his rightist policies don't reflect the opinion of the vast majority of the voters. That's why I voted 'NEE' to this European constitution, like some 60 % of the Dutch voters.
Hendrik Klaassens, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

To be truly European doesn't mean that you have blindly accept all that comes out of Brussels
Alex Powell, Utrecht
The Dutch were never given the chance to vote on the introduction of the euro so there was never any real debate. Since then many thousands of jobs have been lost and everything is more expensive. The French, Germans and Italians together have fudged the stability pact which would have never been allowed if it had been one of the smaller nations and the unelected commission has legislative powers whilst its members enjoy immunity from prosecution for life. Many people on this side of the channel are realising that to be truly European doesn't mean that you have blindly accept all that comes out of Brussels.
Alex Powell, Utrecht

The proposed constitution contains both positive (institutional) and negative (agricultural, anti-democratic) issues. The negative ones weigh too heavy in my opinion to vote in favour of the positive ones, and I think the EU can easily implement the positive issues by means of regular treaties and IGCs. A no-vote is not a lost chance.
Martijn Veening, Groningen, Netherlands

It is time for the EU to install a truly democratic and accountable "government". The Dutch with the highest contribution per citizen should wonder where their money is going. A NO vote could signal that the EU has to become a direct representation of its citizens and not of the governments.
Robbert van der Bij, London

Poland and Spain get a 10% vote in Europe. The Netherlands. a big economy, share 23% voting rights with 19 small countries. This isn't the euro song contest, but Balkenende politics.
Evers, Netherlands

I'm another British expat working in the Netherlands. Many Dutch people are angry that the euro made things very expensive for a time but they forget that it was Dutch companies taking advantage of the changeover that caused the problem, and the fact is recent supermarket price wars have all but eradicated this now anyway. The other main reason is based upon a feeling that the government don't listen to the people, but the people voted for a party headed by a man who had been murdered weeks before the election. If the people don't like who they put in office then they should vote more wisely in future instead of wasting everyone's time voting No to the completely unrelated constitution.
Jennifer, Netherlands, ex-UK

Even the most pro-European countries are fed up with the way the EU is being run
Herman Nooi, Luxembourg (ex-Netherlands)
I hope that my countrymen vote no on the EU constitution by at least a 60-40 margin. It would be the perfect message to send to the high-paid, lazy Eurocrats working in Brussels that even the most pro-European countries are fed up with the way the EU is being run. My friends in the US believe that their politicians in Washington are out of touch with reality, but I tell them that they need to see the situation in Brussels to find politicians that are really out of touch with their home countries.
Herman Nooi, Luxembourg (ex-Netherlands)

I will voting against the constitution, because it's not clear to me what it can do for me. Of course Balkendende is going to say that it is good for us to vote Yes but the government told us also that the euro would be a good thing for us, but life got so much more expensive since the euro that I don't belief that this constitution is going to be good for me.
Dave Zegers, The Hague Netherlands

What is happening is complete insanity! People forget how hard Europe had to fight to get to where we are today. And they want to throw us back to the stone age! The French and Dutch seem to believe that voting for racist and extreme right wing parties will solve their problems. The actual problem of course is the neo-liberal attack on human and worker rights thus right wing parties will only make things worse. Europe needs to integrate more in order to achieve prosperity.
Vangelis, London, UK

The referendum seems to be about the cup of coffee that doubled in price
Hidde, Cambridge, UK
The Dutch are angry. There are many good things in the constitution, such as more power for the European parliament, a better voting system, and more collaboration of police forces, defence and foreign policy. As Dutchman I would vote for this but the referendum seems to be about the cup of coffee that doubled in price, the European bureaucracy money wastage, the avalanche of rules and regulations, the accession of large Muslim countries and the unwillingness of large countries to pay their due (so that we pay too much to the EU). When politicians address the above issues, the Dutch just might give the EU a second chance.
Hidde, Cambridge, UK

I just came back from voting against the constitution. I feel many people will base their vote on their opinion of the Dutch government, which is very low. Still, I also think that many Dutch people have a clear idea about what this constitution entails, and in many ways it could be a product from the Dutch government alone in its over-the-top liberalism, bureaucracy and economic policies. I'm expecting (and hoping for) a 60% victory of those against it.
Mark, Groningen, the Netherlands

My guess is that "Yes" will prevail 51-49%. If so, the EU has received a slap on the wrists by the French. The Netherlands is too dependent on international trade to turn its back on Europe. If a "Nee" vote is the result, the Eurocrats in Brussels will have a serious problem. However, the treaty is sound and an improvement. I voted in favour.
Frank van Dijk, Leiden

I voted "No", although I am in favour of having a constitution. Having read the whole document, I feel it is not very democratic. Parliament cannot introduce legislation, but depends on the commission for proposals. This gives the commission an effective veto over all activities of the EU, which is more than the member states will have. Also, I feel it is unwise to include policy (the collection of existing treaties) into the constitution.
Peter Kievits, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

The Dutch by contrast are simply exasperated by the cost and waste of EU institutions
David, UK

As a Brit working in the Netherlands you become aware that the Dutch objection is different from the French objection which seems to be based mainly on a horror of being required to earn their living in the world! The Dutch by contrast are simply exasperated by the cost and waste of EU institutions, to which they contribute an unreasonably large amount of money. A Dutch rejection should kill the treaty in its current form, but let's hope that it doesn't kill off the modernisation and reform of European economies. Let the French stagnate quietly in their protectionist fortress. The Dutch are highly successful traders and understand better than most the need for a fair and open market within Europe is the means by which we can all safeguard our futures.
David, UK (currently Netherlands)

As with most things in politics, the politicians will simply ignore what they don't want until they can change the rules. If every single country voted "No" they would still find a way to get it through. I have lost faith in the political process.
Cam Berwick, Chester, UK

Unfortunately, the reasons for voting "Nee" vary immensely. I am afraid that my vote today ("Nee" based on the contents of this constitution, e.g. militarization, lack of democracy) will be seen as a "Nee" to Europe. And that our own PM will be the first to state that most people will have opposed on irrational grounds. Earlier Mr Balkenende stated that, "If it's a No, I will look like a fool in Brussels." If I needed an irrational reason to vote "Nee", this would certainly be it. This man and (most of) his government are truly incapable to really listen to the people.
Barbara, Eindhoven, the Netherlands

This is an ill-considered constitution
David Ball, Wokingham, UK
As with the French, the Dutch EU vote will send a message to their government that they ignore the people at their peril. This is an ill-considered constitution that is incapable of implementation and it seems only the people realise this. Doesn't say much for those in government.
David Ball, Wokingham, UK

As a Dutch man working in Britain, I can only see in a bemused way that European politicians have lost touch with the very people they represent. I believe people are waking up to the realisation of loss of identity, lack of self control and not in the least the hints of cronyism and financial self enrichment in these so called upper echelons of democracy that has emerged off late. Of course the Dutch vote no. For centuries, as a small nation the Dutch have relied on politics, trade and tolerance to build their nation, not for it to be smothered in the Eurosauce!
Jilles Edema, Aberdeen, UK

The constitution is too complicated for the 'average citizen'. So now we have to vote based on the trust that what the politicians advise is good. This trust is a bit thin at the moment. The government in Holland did not really start to campaign for a yes until polls seriously predicted a 'Nee". This sent yet another signal of arrogance towards the general public. So now we have to vote according to our feelings, because the real facts of the constitution are simply not known/understood.
Mauro, A'dam, Netherlands

I think it will be a "No" vote on Wednesday. Another message to Brussels to clean up the acts and stop wasting our tax money.
Harry, Antwerp, Bel.

The Dutch will follow the lead of France and vote No. Mainly because the vote is being held without the characteristic predictions of doom or spiteful recriminations from the pro-government, Europhile campaign and so will be an honest reflection of the views of European citizens.
Jason, Manchester

I predict a "Nee" vote 60%-40%. The referendum in France will have had a big effect on the outcome of the Dutch referendum.
Brendan Chilton, Great Britain




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