In the referendum on the new European constitution, governments will spend taxpayers´ money to tell them which way to vote. Cynics won´t bat an eye at this; the rest of us can only weep for our misappropriated euros!
Today´s example comes from Holland, where 1.5 million euros have been earmarked to instruct electors to vote "yes". If it looks like enough taxpayers might vote "no", then their own money will be spent to persuade them otherwise.
This has become necessary in light of the latest poll results. Whereas normally the Dutch are reliably pro-EU and were assumed to be solidly in favour of the new constitution, a poll by Maurice de Hond last week showed a dramatically opposite tendency. The Dutch government realises, to its horror, that the debate is far more open and undecided than it had thought. Hence the need to help guide voters subtly toward the correct voting intention.
It seems foolish to waste money in this way. Surely it would be cheaper to cancel the whole referendum and approve the wretched constitution by government fiat?