A consultative referendum on Ukraine-EU Association Agreement will take place in the Netherlands on April 6. The referendum is regulated by the recently adopted Dutch law on consultative referendums. According to the law, the citizens have a right to demand a referendum to vote on laws and / or agreements.
The Netherlands has finalized the ratification of Ukraine-EU Association Agreement in July 2015, but the Dutch can still vote on it in a referendum. The results of the referendum will be recognized if at least 30% of Dutch citizens participate in it. The referendum is funded by the Dutch government, which allocated €30 million for its organization.
The proposed referendum question is the following: Are you “for” or “against” the ratification of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement? There are several scenarios according to which the events may unfold after the referendum. First of all, there’s a chance that the results of the referendum will not be recognized, in case the turnout amounts to less than 30%. Sociologist forecast a turnout of over 40% of citizens.
In case the Dutch vote against the Association, government of the Netherlands must submit it for consideration of the parliament. The parliament has options to either approve or cancel it. If citizens of the Netherlands vote for the Association, it will come into force.
Earlier President of European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker stated, that in case the Dutch vote against the Association Agreement, this will open doors for a huge continental crisis. Minister President of the Netherlands Mark Rutte emphasized that this referendum will not stop Ukraine on its way to joining the European Union, however, government of the Netherlands must take into consideration the results of the referendum. The thing is that, the Dutch authorities cannot openly ignore opinion of citizens, since it risks losing electorate in an upcoming parliamentary election in autumn of 2016.
A group of Dutch eurosceptics, who managed to gather enough votes in order to ensure organization of the referendum in the first place, keep an eye out. Both, adherents and opponents of the Association, have launched their campaigns. In particular, Foreign Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin arrived in Amsterdam to take part in agitation debate and opened the velo flash mob in Ukraine’s support. Meanwhile eurosceptics are campaigning against the Association. As for the opinion of eurosceptics, it should be noted, that they stand not only against Ukraine-EU Association, but back a much more global idea – the Netherlands must exit the Eurozone.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine states that propaganda of eurosceptics is working as part of Russian propaganda and creates myths about Ukraine, which involves the Netherlands’ alleged direct involvement in the Donbas conflict, horror stories about tens of thousands of Ukrainian migrants and etc.
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko is convinced that Ukraine “will gain victory in the Dutch referendum”, that citizens of the Netherlands will cast their votes for the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement.
Polling stations during the vote in the referendum will be open from 7:30 till 21:00 (or from 8:30 till 22:00 Kyiv time). Dutch citizens who have reached the age of 18 years may cast their opinion in the referendum. One should come to the polling station with the special invitation (stempas) and ID document. Staff of the polling station will give out a ballot paper and a red pencil. The question in the referendum reads as follows: “Are you for or against the ratification of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine?”. One should put a red mark in front of “yes” or “no” column. Spoilt ballot papers will be considered invalid. Only one person must be located in the voting booth while casting a vote. Only people with disabilities may receive assistance while voting. After the vote is cast, a ballot paper must be placed into a ballot box. Results of the referendum will be recognized if at least 30% of the Dutch (around 3,8 million people) turn up to cast their opinions.