The Dutch referendum is in its full spate. Polling stations opened at 7:30 am and will work until 9:oo pm. People are voting in a referendum on an EU-Ukraine association agreement, which is also a vote on the country’s attitude towards Europe and has potentially embarrassing geopolitical consequences.

 

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The referendum, which was triggered by a public petition, has left many people confused. The latest opinion polls put the No camp ahead, but with a high level of undecided voters.

 

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According to Ipsos, 37 percent intend to vote against the agreement and 30 percent in favour, but 33 percent still do not know what to vote.

 

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko voiced confidence the Dutch people would support the pact, and warned against his country becoming a victim of what he called “an internal Dutch discussion about the future of the European Union”.

 

But in an early call, anti-immigrant far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders tweeted to supporters Wednesday: “Everyone vote today. And vote against!”

 

 

I managed to talk to some Dutch residents, who have already cast their voices today. And it’s very interesting fact, that many people aren’t satisfied by the fact that Brussels enforce its views to the Dutch residents. 

 

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“I think that most of the Dutch people will vote against. I hope that turnout will reach 30 percent and the vote will be succeeded”, Breukie, 51 told to News Front

 

When asking if she had already cast her voice, she answered, “Yes I did vote against today”. 

 

Opponents say that the EU should not be dealing with Ukraine’s leadership because of the widespread corruption in the country. President Petro Poroshenko, a “Chocolate King” who won elections in 2014, has been accused, following the leak of millions of records on offshore accounts, of abusing his office and of tax evasion by moving his business offshore, possibly depriving the country of millions of dollars in taxes.

 

The no campaign is hoping for the Dutch people to send out an anti-EU signal. They have expressed concerns that the agreement is the first step towards EU membership for Ukraine. 

 

“I want that this divided country not only economically but also politically and militarily is drawn closer to the EU. It’s better for the people here, better for the people there and better for European cooperation, aimed at peace and progress for all”, said Stefan, who also cast an “against” vote. 

 

The referendum, the first in the Netherlands since the country rejected the EU constitution, was forced by a loose coalition of Euro-skeptics that managed to gather nearly 430,000 signatures in just six weeks last year. Exactly what will happen to the agreement if the Dutch vote against it remains unclear, but politicians all say Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition government will have to take the result seriously. The advisory referendum is declared valid only if voter turnout is over 30 percent.

 

Stay tuned and follow events with Catherine Nollan and News Front

 

 

 

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