Last chance for referendum on EU treaty

26 May 2008

Last chance for referendum on EU treaty

Tomorrow and Thursday will see the debate over the proposal from the SP and other parliamentary groups for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty – the successor to the European Constitution rejected three years ago by Dutch and French voters.

The proposal is signed by the SP, the centrist D66, the Green Left, the right-wing Freedom Party and the animal rights group the PvdD, groups together having the support of over a quarter of Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum and of both pro- and anti-Treaty parties. Commenting on the proposal, of which he is one of the signatories, SP European Affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel said: “After the Cabinet decided last year not to organise a referendum, we took the initiative in Parliament. It was after all Parliament, and not the government, which instigated the referendum of 2005. We don't need the Cabinet for that.”

This time, however, support is far smaller than it was five years ago, for the initiative which led the the 2005 vote, principally because of the way in which the Labour Party turned about-face last October and withdrew its backing.

“The decision not to organise a referendum is too important to be left there.” Van Bommel said. “The Dutch people deserve a decision which is well-considered and properly explained. In particular, parties which were in the past for a referendum must take their responsibilities.”

The government has said that it will attend the debate and respond. “Actually,” said Van Bommel “this is a totally hypocritical situation. On the basis of leaked memos from the council of Ministers we know well that this government will never endorse a referendum, even if a majority in both houses of parliament were to call for one. This is how it is sabotaging democracy.”

The likelihood is that, following this week's debate, the matter will be brought to the vote next Tuesday.

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