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New referendum law: 'European treaties must not be excluded'

16 February 2009

New referendum law: 'European treaties must not be excluded'

If there is to be a new and revised law on referenda, it must make it possible to organise a popular vote on any proposed new EU treaties, according to the SP. SP Member of Parliament Ronald van Raak gave the party's views in a discussion of a proposal for a new law on consultative referenda from three MPs. The three represent Parliament's two left of centre parties, the Green Left and Labour, and the centrist D66.

Ronald van RaakThe proposed law as written makes a number of exceptions to the electorate's right to be consulted, one of which is European treaties. On this issue, they will not be allowed a voice. This is, Van Raak argues, something of an admission of weakness. "The three MPs actually make reference to the success of the June 2005 referendum on the European Constitution," Van Raak notes, "yet their proposal would make just such a referendum impossible."

Referenda, in Van Raak's view, are an excellent complement to parliamentary democracy. "In 2005 we saw just why referenda are necessary. Almost every party in Parliament was in favour of the European Constitution, but two-thirds of the people voted against. People vote in elections for their representatives. If those elected don't live up to this title, it's a good thing if people have the chance to call them to account."

Van Raak also wants an assurance that the referendum commission, the body which would be charged with organising the votes, would be independent. Any money distributed by such a commission would have to be divided equitably between supporters and opponents of the proposition being put to popular vote.

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