IN a referendum which has managed to stealthily fly by under the radar, Dutch citizens with time on their hands have said a resounding no to a proposed EU-Ukraine association agreement.
A solid majority of 61 per cent rejected the proposal with a mere 38 per cent in favour, although turnout was embarrassingly low at 32 per cent.
The referendum was supposedly about EU relations with Ukraine, and the extension of trade with the tumultuous buffer state between Europe and Russia.
In reality it was a false issue forced by Dutch Eurosceptic campaigners led by far right campaigners including Geert Wilders, who happily described the result as “the beginning of the end of the EU.”
Former broker Nigel Farage, who has taken on the mantle of Britain’s voice on Europe without ever having being asked, issued a jolly “hooray” and likely wore a daft hat.
The result has Brexit campaigners in militant mood, suggesting that Dutch voters have ignited the spark that will send droves of British citizens to the polls eager to follow suit.
While the referendum has undoubtedly been an enormous embarrassment for the fragile coalition that makes up Holland’s government, drawing apocalyptic conclusions may be hasty.
As noted, less than one third of the Dutch electorate actually bothered to turn out because the vote itself was spawned from satirical website, which managed to secure enough signatures to demand a non-binding referendum.
It was predominantly anti-EU campaigners, rather than average citizens, therefore who participated. The vast majority of Dutch who stayed at home or went to work considered the referendum a joke and stayed away as a matter of principle.