13:21 GMT +316 October 2019
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    Dutch member of the Socialist Party (SP) Harry van Bommel hands out flyers against a referendum on the association treaty with Ukraine, in The Hague, on April 5, 2016

    The Dutch Had Their Say: Media Reaction to EU Treaty Referendum

    © AFP 2019 / Bart Maat / ANP
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    The morning after Dutch voters rejected the EU's association agreement with Ukraine in a non-binding referendum according to preliminary results, Dutch newspapers described it as “an embarrassment,” “a dilemma” and “ a recipe for discontent.”

    Top Dutch news website NL Times has analyzed the reaction of the country’s media sources to the no-vote of the Dutch on the European Union's association agreement with Ukraine.

    The largest Dutch daily The Telegraaf describes the referendum as “an embarrassment”.

    “The message of the Ministers the past days in the media going on a sale in an effort to convince voters of a ‘yes’, was beaten to death. Moreover, the government only barely convinced voters to go to the polling stations,” the website quotes it as saying with the reference to the 32.2 percent turnout which just narrowly exceeded the minimum requirements for the results to be valid.

    Another newspaper, Volkskrant, says this no-vote is a “recipe for discontent”.

    Officials count the votes of the Dutch referendum about the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine on April 6, 2016 at a voting office in Schiermonnikoog
    © AFP 2019 / Catrinus van der Veen / ANP
    Officials count the votes of the Dutch referendum about the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine on April 6, 2016 at a voting office in Schiermonnikoog

    The newspaper believes the no-camp’s victory was aided “by a mixture of disinterest and disgust in the majority of voters”.

    ​“What is likely is the vicious circle of Euro-skepticism. Because whatever the cabinet does: the ‘no’ camp will take every European concession as cosmetic polishing, a confirmation of the image that the Netherlands has little more to say. A confirmation too of the feeling that there is every reason to be angry. The referendum gave the anger a voice again, but by no means took the pressure off.”

    ​The AD believes that the government is facing a “devilish dilemma, which will almost definitely cause tensions”.

    Trouw calls the result an ‘uncomfortable outcome’ for the government.

    “Uncomfortable because it was a subject that was not really suitable. Uncomfortable because a likely turnout of 32 percent yields a valid result, but the 62 percent no-voters only represents 20 percent of the Dutch.”

    ​Meanwhile the Dutch News website has received the comments of the country's high-ranking politicians.

    Alexander Pechtold, leader of the Liberal democratic party D66 which had campaigned in favour of the treaty, said the results of the referendum are clear. ‘No is no,’ he said.

    ‘By massively ignoring the vote, the Dutch voter has said what he or she thinks about referendums,’ a spokesman for the youth wing of the VVD Liberal party said.

    ​Christian Democrat leader Sybrand Buma said: ‘If over 30% have voted, the treaty cannot be ratified.’

    However Nos commentator Dominique van der Heyde said the government will “have to come up with something substantial to appease other European countries if it wants to amend the treaty. It has already been ratified by the rest of Europe and the Netherlands said earlier it would back the plan.”

    Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Poroshenko also had his say.

    "This is an attack on the unity of Europe, the attack on expansion of the European values. It is also demonstrated by the debate that began on the eve of the referendum.”

    “However, I want to emphasize that this referendum, according to the Constitution and laws of the Netherlands, has exclusively advisory nature. So now the ball passes to the government, parliament, and politicians in Holland.”


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    EU-Ukraine association, preliminary results, reaction, Dutch referendum on Ukraine-EU treaty, European Union, Europe, Ukraine, Netherlands
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