The day after its referendum on the EU-Ukraine treaty tiny Holland was bestowed the honour of having Lionel Barber, editor of the FT, reflect on the negative outcome and put it in proper perspective. In case you haven’t seen his pearls of wisdom, here they are: Dutch abstention on Ukraine deal proves loudest message of all.
If you can’t be bothered to read it, here is a quote that illustrates the drift of it:
It was a Eurosceptic group calling itself GeenPeil (“Not a clue”) which amassed the signatures and selected the EU-Ukraine accord as the issue on which to make its stand.
Let me start with a brief lesson in Dutch for Mr Barber (and his fact checking colleagues). “GeenPeil” does not mean “Not a clue”. This translation is the fruit of the wishful imagination of someone who wants to marginalise those who voted against ratification of the EU treaty with the Ukraine *).
GeenPeil means “No level” or “No measure” in Dutch, just so you know.
Barber’s suggestive translation gives away what he tries to achieve in his column: depict the result of the Dutch referendum as the outcry of an unwashed and angry minority venting their frustration and narrow-mindedness, Trumpism in the Lowlands if you like. The referendum’s turnout of 32% is supposedly hardly representative and it is suggested that the 68% of the population that did not vote are probably mostly in favour of the treaty.
Well, I have news for Barber. The nationwide polls that were held prior to the election showed the same outcome of around 60% against. And the turnout of 32% is typical for a European election in the Netherlands, does that mean that elections for the European parliament are a joke as well? Remember that the previous referendum in 2005 on the Lisbon accord had a turnout of 63.3% while yielding a ‘No’ vote of 61.5%.
Not a clue, indeed.
*) Only "Geen Peil" when used in the Dutch expression “Geen peil op te trekken” comes close with a bit of imagination. It means that there is no knowing what will happen.