Written by Pietje Mol for SouthFront
The Netherlands is probably getting a European referendum after an activist website collected enough signatures to trigger a non-binding plebiscite on the EU’s integration pact with Ukraine. Since it is a non-binding referendum, it is unclear what effect, if any, the vote will have on Dutch government policy. However, the process complicates EU policy on Ukraine, casting doubt over the EU deal that rightfully outraged Moscow.
The approximately 450,000 signatures amassed by GeenStijl, a satirical news website, far exceeds the 300,000 needed under law to trigger a referendum, and was collected within a month. It poses a political problem for the largely pro-EU Dutch government, which has already ratified the controversial Ukraine pact.
The website said it was the first to bring a successful application to the electoral council, putting the Netherlands on course to a “historic referendum”. “You did it, out of love for democracy in the Netherlands and Europe, and to send a signal to The Hague and Brussels,” the website reported. Once these signatures are verified by authorities, a referendum must be held within six months. It is the second ever held referendum in the Netherlands, after the ‘no’ vote of the first referendum on the EU Lisbon treaty in 2005. It is unclear what effect, if any, it would have on the start of a free-trade pact with Ukraine, which in spite of complaints from Russia is scheduled for the beginning of 2016.
Let’s make it clear that the collection of so many votes (the Netherlands has 17 million people, of which a few million are immigrants), in 4 weeks time, is a very hopeful sign for those who oppose the EU and US expansion policies. Keep in mind that the large press outlets, especially television, and the large newspapers, who are all on the government’s side, did not, or hardly, mention the collection of the signatures. Therefore, the website stood on its own, and that makes the collection of 450.000 signatures in 4 weeks quite astonishing.
But the situation is more complex. I think that part of the people that signed the request of a referendum, did so, not so much because of the EU-Ukraine pact, but rather because they are fed up by the EU as a whole. And there are definitely a lot of people in the Netherlands still very much asleep, I would say still a majority. There is also of course, a substantial minority, who benefits from spreading lies, such as government people seeking high paid government jobs, either in the Dutch government or in Brussels, or some people in large companies benefiting from Europe, such as Shell looking for shale gas contracts with Ukraine. A large number of people feel, however, there is something ‘not ok’, but because they are constantly being lied to, it is very difficult to see through it if you are not an active person seeking for the truth. Two clear examples of outright lies, amongst others, are for example: Timmermans , the Dutch ‘right hand’ of Juncker in Brussels, in his UN speech about the ‘Russian thugs’, and another example is from the largest Dutch TV channel reporting on ‘bad Putin behavior’, in which they actually modified the facts: ” NOS (Dutch National Television Broadcast) fails and lies with anti-Russia propaganda”. The other type of endemic lying is that the large tv and newspapers are systematically silent on facts that appear, for example no news coverage about the intercepted phone call of Victoria Nuland and the American Embassador, or the Estonian minister to Catherine Ashton in Brussels, no reporters critically looking into these facts. And I won’t go into the details of the lies being spread about the MH17 disaster. That would make this article too long, and is worth a topic on its own.
These are just examples of the constant lying that occurs in the Dutch press, and this is not only on Ukraine and Russia topics, but also on other topics, for example about the refugee crisis. When refugees throw rocks or commit other bad behavior, there is complete press silence, but they put a dead child in the centre of the attention, for days. And of course no mention of the fact that his father was trying to reach Europe to get dental treatment. So we can forget any large Dutch news site would show the evidence that the refugee crisis is organized from within the European Union.
There are still a lot of Dutch people not very much politically interested, and only look for 5 minutes on TV to get informed about politics, so they don’t know about the Goebbelsian lies that are being spread.
The months preceding the referendum, the Dutch people will have to endure a lot of new propaganda from the government on the Ukrainian association treaty. That makes the outcome of the referendum uncertain, but even so I estimate that the majority will say ‘no’. Because the people also did say no on the EU Lisbon treaty, where there was the same misinformation from the government. And the collection of so many signatures by a website in less than a month, does indicate, that more and more people might be seeing the light. Even though the politicians can ‘overrule’ it, every time they do, public support for them will go down. Let’s hope the European politicians are walking on their last legs.