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A Letter from Limburg

Posted by Simon Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Going through the Motions

With the new packaging tax, a planned VAT increase on petrol and diesel, and yesterday's decision to rely on the Dutch Ministry of Defense to make it's own decision concerning continued Dutch involvement in the JSF development, Dutch politicians don't seem to be any more in touch with reality than their cohorts in the UK.

Despite vociferous denials that there is any conspiracy to keep all things EU out of the news, the MSM here - which now has the glorious distraction of the European Football Championships to look forward to - has been devoting to itself to anything but the EU. Like the UK though, there have been plenty of meaty domestic issues to pad out the columns - like ex-mister Herfkens and the $280,000 she was paid by the Dutch government as removals and housing allowance for her period at the UNDP in contravention of UN rules. Despite it being clearly prohibited in the employment contract she signed, she's now refusing to pay the money back because it 'would be an admission of guilt'. The poor dear didn't like staring at a brick wall in her apartment and wanted something within walking distance, but her $107,000 a year tax-free salary for a 30-hour week apparently wasn't enough for the chic area she had in mind. If she hadn't been been sacked for breaking UN rules by applying for a green card, she'd most likely be there still.

The fact that the Dutch parliament are handling the proposal for a law calling for a refendum on the Lisbon treaty has therefore passed completely under the radar of the MSM and most bloggers. Because referendums are not strictly constitutional here, the Socialist Party, GreenLeft, PVV, D66 and Labour Party (PvdA) had submitted an 'initiative law proposal' for a referendum - though the results would not have been binding, only 'advisory'. Not that it had the faintest chance of succeeding, the PvdA, VVD and D66 had already backed out any committments. Today the debates were held. Each party was required to 'subscribe' for the amount of debating time they wanted to speak, and our wonderful leading coalition party the Christian Democrats (CDA) claimed, care to guess? ... 30 seconds.

Tomorrow they will vote, but I wonder why they bother. Everyone knows it's a foregone conclusion. All they will be doing is going through the motions ... but here too that is what democracy appears to have become; a sham of going through the motions.