Global Independent Analytics

EUROSKEPTICS GEAR UP FOR DUTCH UKRAINE REFERENDUM VOTE

The poll, scheduled for April 6, will be held on whether the EU should work more closely with Ukraine

Josh Lowe for Newsweek reports: Ostensibly the poll, scheduled for April 6, is over one policy issue —whether the Dutch government should ratify an EU-Ukraine deal, signed in March 2014, that would make trade between EU states and Ukraine easier. It has been ratified by all 27 other member states.

However, the debate is anticipated to cover more than just a single trade deal. The polls persistently show that the “No” vote is highly likely, including a survey conducted in a Dutch town of Crimea, which coincidentally shares the name with the Ukrainian region that cast a vote to acknowledge Russian annexation two years ago, in 2014. According to EU Observer, 76% of respondents claimed that they would vote against Ukrainian admission in the EU.

Lowe continues: “Euroskeptics have tried to use the campaign to highlight a perceived democratic deficit in the EU. The vote was sparked by a petition organized by the GeenPeil group, which swiftly gathered more than the 300,000 signatures needed to force a poll. “The referendum gives the Dutch voters a greater say in European democracy,” reads the first point on one campaign flyer the group is distributing.”

However, some suggest that the April 6 vote will rather determine the future of Russia-Netherlands relations: research demonstrates that 58% of respondents believe that a rejection of the trade agreement would gratify Russia, and 44% of surveyed said that supporting the deal would endanger Russia-Netherlands ties.

“Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is campaigning for a “Yes,” has also brought wider geopolitical issues into the debate, insisting in a recent interview that the EU-Ukraine agreement was not aimed at moving Ukraine closer towards EU membership. “Opponents of this treaty say that it is a step towards EU membership. That is not what it is about,” he said, in comments reported by the DutchNews website,” assumes Lowe.

Even though the results of the vote on Ukraine will not necessarily mean an immediate call to action, the authorities will need to take them seriously in order not to be accused of anti-democratic behavior. “With fears of populism already running high across Europe, elites in Brussels and European capitals will be watching closely,” concludes Lowe.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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