This past week the Dutch referendum on Ukraine’s future in the EU suffered a stunning blow. Around 32 percent of the population went to vote — a small turnout by normal standards but enough to make the result valid — and a majority voted to throw a spanner into Ukraine’s plans to join Europe. A mere 2.5 million voters in a country of 17 million people decided Europe’s future.
This is a perfect display of the tendency in Europe to have different political lobby groups from different parts of the political spectrum coming together due to their shared hatred of EU institutions. The far left went to vote No gatherings with posters of Palestine and Putin, and the far right went to vote No gatherings with anti-immigrant signs and, like the left, posters of Putin, Putin being the one common denominator here.
This single referendum flipped the Ukrainian situation upside down. Firstly, this is a direct attack on the idea that the EU will slowly continue expanding and incorporating new countries. Secondly, this goes against the entire idea of people within the EU being satisfied with its performance.
The No campaign’s biggest names came from Eurosceptics — including Nigel Farage of Britain, Marine Le Pen of France, and Geert Wilders of Netherlands — joining forces against Ukraine’s hopes. Given the small size of people who actually went to vote, it’s difficult to know how many people actually want to be out of EU, but a few conclusions can be drawn.
First of all, this is a win for Euroscepticism. No matter how one interprets the result, it follows a pattern, especially when taking into account the solid gains by Marine Le Pen in France and the striking loss of Angela Merkel’s party in German local elections. Even for people who might argue that the percentage of people who actually voted is a lot less than who didn’t, the fact that so many people even didn’t bother to turn up to vote shows that they are apathetic towards Ukraine and the EU.