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Netherlands wants to amend law on consultative referendums

April 07, 18:44 UTC+3 THE HAGUE
The Dutch law does not clearly prescribe what the cabinet of ministers should do if the turnout passes threshold needed to consider the referendum to be valid and if the "no" vote prevails
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Ronald Plasterk, the Dutch Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations

Ronald Plasterk, the Dutch Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations

© AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

THE HAGUE, April 7 /TASS/. The Netherlands wants to amend its Consultative Referendum Law, Ronald Plasterk, the Dutch Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, said on Thursday after the Dutch had rejected the EU-Ukraine association deal in a referendum held a day earlier on Wednesday.

According to him, the Dutch law does not clearly prescribe what the cabinet of ministers should do if the turnout passes threshold needed to consider the referendum to be valid and if the "no" vote prevails as it was in case of the referendum on the ratification of the association agreement between the European Union and Ukraine.

The minister added that a 30% threshold was also raising some doubts. People decided not to go to the polling stations in hope that the vote would be invalid. Plasterk warned about all the uncertainties and unpleasant consequences when the law was being debated. Now, we should go through it once again, the minister suggested.

At present, the threshold needed for recognizing the vote to be valid is linked to the total number of voters. In my view, Plasterk went on to say, the threshold could be linked to the minimal number of voters who cast a "no" vote.

For his part, Dutch Socialist Party Deputy Harry van Bommel disagreed with Plasterk.

"The turnout of 30% is the right limit. I believe there is no need to change it," the deputy told TASS.

The Dutch government passed a law on consultative referendums last year. It allows the Dutch to initiate referendums on practically all laws, which have been adopted but have not come into force. The three exceptions include the Constitution, the budget and the Dutch Royal Family.

The referendum on ratification of the EU-Ukraine association agreement was the first vote organized under the Consultative Referendum Law. According to preliminary vote count, the EU-Ukraine deal was rejected by 61.1% of Dutch voters compared to 38.1 % who backed the agreement. The turnout was 32.2%, slightly over the 30% threshold needed for considering the vote to be valid.

The government is now going to submit a proposal to parliament. It is still unclear what kind of proposal it is going to be. The authorities may leave the agreement in force, despite the "no" vote, or refuse to ratify it. Other, and more complicated options are also possible. For example, the Netherlands and the European Union may agree, in the process of talks, that the agreement’s political part will not apply to the Netherlands while the economic part of the EU-Ukraine association agreement, which is already in effect, will continue to function.

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