Fresh on the heels of the French rejection of the proposed EU charter, the Dutch have driven a stake through its heart with an overwhelming ‘nee’ to match the Gallic ‘non’ of Sunday:
Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected the European constitution in a referendum Wednesday, exit polls projected, in what could be a knockout blow for the charter roundly defeated just days ago by France.
An exit poll projection broadcast by state-financed NOS television said the referendum failed by a vote of 63 percent to 37 percent. The turnout was 62 percent, exceeding all expectations, the broadcaster said.
Although the referendum was consultative, the high turnout and the decisive margin left no room for the Dutch parliament to turn its back on the people’s verdict. The parliament meets Thursday to discuss the results.
The Dutch turned out in much greater numbers than anticipated, thanks in part to an assertion by Dutch politicians that they would not consider a referendum failure binding on their decision process unless the turnout exceeded 35% and the Nee vote got at least 55%. If the exit polling holds up, both of those thresholds not only got met but far exceeded. The Dutch have made an unequivocal, 2-1 statement of defiance to the EU and the architects of this Byzantine constitution.
The EU will need to regroup. No one expects the alliances to fall apart, but the nations of Europe have to ask themselves if they want a homogenous entity on the Continent with top-down sovereignty — or if they shouldn’t try to build a model closer to that of the United States, with states’ rights built into a united federal system with a concise and limited constitution for use as a framework for a limited but sovereign federal government.
The current efforts of the EU to define itself looks more like our original Articles of Confederation than anything approaching unity. The results this week look similar to what they were here as well. Eating one’s cake and having it too is a pipe dream, a Holy Grail of politics that winds up either as comedy or tragedy. Thankfully, so far, it has only been the former.
UPDATE: Mitch in the comments points out correctly that the proposed constitution itself doesn’t resemble the Articles at all — it’s all about setting up bureaucracies upon bureaucracies, and of course, he’s right. Conceptually, however, the EU nations have lived in a fantasy that they can meaningfully unite under one government structure while retaining their own complete and individual sovereignties — which is one of the reasons why the mind-boggling document looks the way it does. It’s a way of creating a federal government that gives the appearance of sovereignty without any nation actually giving theirs up.
Our forefathers tried that and it failed. They didn’t have the foresight to try binding sovereign states together by means of unelected and unaccountable bureaucracies. Of course, the designers of the EU constitution had the advantage of coming after the establishment of the United Nations, and this looks like the exact same kind of abortion. In fact, that may really be the better analogy.