Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Letter from Limburg

Inpakken en Wegwezen (pack up and move on)

There was a faint glimmer of hope for a referendum on the EU treaty yesterday when it was announced at the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) party congress that, to everyone's surprise, an almost unknown - Lilianne Ploumen - was elected as the new leader of the PvdA party instead of the tipped favourite and ex-Minister Jan Pronk. Lilianne was known to be in favour of holding a referendum, and so we waited with interest to see what the outcome would be of the party discussions today.

This morning, Mariƫtte Hamer, deputy party leader announced that the PvdA has decided not to support the call for a referendum and, since the PvdA members of parliament are about as likely to go against the party decision as the chance of a politician being honest, the chances of the "initiative law" getting the majority it would need in Parliament for it to be considered for enactment as a law enabling a referendum are now zero.

Jacques Tichelaar, leader of the party in Parliament said that the party was full of praise for the changes that had been made to the constitution that the Dutch rejected in the last referendum in 2005. Secretary of State for Europe Timmermans, also PvDa, excused the party reneging on its election manifesto promise of a referendum by once again repeating the slogan that the treaty is "substantially and fundamentally different" from the original constitution and falling back on the Privy Council judgment that the treaty has "no constitutional aspects".

Of course, the new treaty will still have to be ratified by parliament ...


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