Over in Holland, “conservative” Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende is busily trying to deny Dutch voters the chance to vote on the EU’s ‘it’s not a constitution’ constitution. Like Gordon Brown and Tony Blair before him, he’s claiming, absurdly, that the new treaty is sufficiently different from the old, rejected constitution that there’s no need to ask voters for their opinion of it. In a rare moment of frankness, however, Balkenende has also admitted that he didn’t want to risk a “no” vote:
If the Netherlands would vote “no” again, what would happen?…a situation of new negotiations would not occur just like that. You shouldn’t take new negotiations for granted.
If European politicians want to understand why they are regarded with such disdain, it is because of the likes of Balkenende, a man whose contempt for his electorate is, it seems, boundless.