Voters in the Netherlands have said a firm ‘No’ to an EU partnership deal with Ukraine.
But for far-right politician Geert Wilders, Wednesday’s referendum result has broader implications
‘The beginning of the end of the European Union’ he said on Twitter in comments picked up by the German press, and retweeted by the anti-immigration leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV).
The anti-EU populist is delighted at what he calls a ‘vote of no confidence’ against Europe’s elite.
One man’s joy is another’s nightmare.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government had already signed the broad political, trade and defence treaty. Approved by all other EU nations as well as Ukraine, it took effect provisionally in January.
The vote comes less than three months before Britain’s referendum on whether to leave the bloc altogether.
With just over 60 percent of Dutch voters rejecting the association agreement, there could be far-reaching consequences for the fragile coalition government in the Netherlands, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency.
The voter turnout threshold of 30 percent was only just met and the referendum is non-binding.
But Rutte has acknowledged that it is now politically impossible for his administration to ratify the treaty in its current form.