Author Archives: Henk van Klaveren

What the UK can learn from the Dutch referendum

With just under three months to go the EU referendum, the low turnout and overwhelming majority against the Ukraine-EU Association Treaty in a Dutch referendum is not a good omen. It is a good moment to take stock. The campaign is about to start, with the official designation of the Remain and Leave campaigns due soon. What lessons can the UK learn from the Dutch referendum experience?

The good news first: the UK referendum really matters, whereas the Dutch one did not. The Ukraine-EU Association Treaty is important geopolitically but for the average Dutch voter, ratification will not change their daily lives. It allowed them a protest vote seemingly without consequence. Those that could bother to vote – less than a third of voters, with many supporters staying at home in the hope that the required 30% threshold would be missed – predictably took that opportunity with both hands.

Here, the EU referendum will have a very real impact on people’s daily lives. That should focus minds but there is a risk: a referendum is rarely about the subject on the ballot paper. Only when the question is crystal clear and on a topic of relevance to the voters will the campaign focus on that. The Scottish referendum campaign was a good example of where that worked well. Everybody could relate to the question at hand and because it was such a momentous decision, people were extremely engaged in the debate.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 8 Comments

Opinion: Lessons from the Netherlands on Lib Dem strategy

Netherlands-4778 - Wooden GrondzeilerA few months after the UK Coalition Government formed in 2010, the Dutch Christian Democrats (CDA) formed a minority government with our sister party, the liberal VVD. To get a majority agreement, the VVD-CDA coalition made a confidence and supply agreement with right-wing Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV), which set out a number of policy concession to Wilders, e.g. on immigration. That was a decision with huge impact: the PVV was about as toxic as it could get for many CDA and VVD supporters. The fall-out …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 53 Comments

Fraser Nelson is wrong: Cameron’s supposed EU re-negotiation allies are set on a very different path

european union starsLike so many Eurosceptics, Fraser Nelson was at it again this morning in the Telegraph: taking a couple of things they heard from foreign politicians and adding it all up to make something that matches exactly what they want: less Brussels.

Nelson was continuing his theme from the Spectator a couple of weeks ago, describing a Northern Alliance Cameron had been building to reform the European Union in his image. There is one problem with all that: it simply is not true.

In the UK, the Dutch are …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , , and | 8 Comments
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