Dutch voters think they have been had by euro price hikes and by Germany and France dodging the euro stability pact while they had to obey by it. The ‘no’ to the Constitution could be a high as 60 per cent.
Economy and the Euro:
Against the backdrop of unpopular austerity measures, popular resentment against the EU has been stoked further by price rises seen as linked to the introduction of the euro. The director of the Dutch National Bank recently revealed that at the time of the introduction of the euro, the Dutch Guilder had been undervalued by 5 to 10 per cent. Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm has admitted that this was true, contrary to what he had stated earlier.
The Netherlands is the largest per capita contributor to the EU. The sense of getting a bad deal and a general feeling of injustice has been fuelled by the year-long EU row over the Stability and Growth Pact. The big EU nations France and Germany got themselves off the hook by using political strong-arm tactics. By contrast, the Dutch government has gone by the book and dealt with its budget deficit by cutting back on welfare spending.
Immigration and enlargement:
The Dutch have been gripped by a deep sense of unease after the political murders of Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and of the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in 2004 by a Muslim extremist. The debate about the failed integration of muslim immigrants following the killing of Pim Fortuyn raised question marks about the traditional Dutch values of permissiveness and tolerance. This has remained an issue.
The EU enlargement of 2004 that included the eastern European countries and the prospective entry of Turkey have added to fears of there being more immigration problems to come.
Dutch sovereignty and tolerance:
The libertarians on the left of the Dutch society fear that the country’s liberal views on drugs may come under pressure if further EU integration erodes national sovereignty.