Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Dutch Constitutional Referendum

The Dutch government is considering cancelling the national refereundum on the EU's draft constitution should the French vote non.

On the one hand, the referendum was an initiative not of the Dutch government but of the Dutch parliament, so that it seems the government is meddling where it isn't wanted.

On the other, it is a commonsense idea. If the French vote non, the consitution is a dead letter. The opinions of other countries won't change that.

Update - In the event, of course, the referendum went ahead and the Dutch voted nee by an overwhelming margin. The outcome, far from making the constitution a "dead letter", has been beyond what even the most cynical observer could ever justify - the constitution, brought back under a different name ("The Lisbon Treaty") is simply being brought into law, by "governmental acclamation", against the express wishes of Dutch and French voters. In this way democracy is being fatally subverted in Europe. National democratic governemts are allowing their authority and authority to be taken over by the EU Commission whose members they nominate, on the whole, from the ranks of their most mediocre ministers.

For an interesting viewpoint on how government was managed in a gentler age, this links to an extract on local, squire-based governance, from Gilbert West's Journey Through Groningen and Frisia and the Frisian Isles. West is writing about the Oldambt, a county of the Ommelanden in the northern Netherlands, in the eighteenth century. How much more sensibly and locally things were run then. How much cooler and objective a view of government did people like West, Oomkens and Johnson have than most present-day comentators and policy wonks.

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