Dutch voters who voted against the European constitution, voted for Europe. It’s really not rocket science, but at the time the media seemed to have great difficulty grasping the concept.
Here’s how daily Dutch newspaper NRC explains it:
It looks like the voter turnout for the elections for the European Parliament will reach an all time low this year. The polling agency of the European Commission predicts that only 34 % of the eligible voters will show up. But for the Netherlands the turnout is predicted to be higher than five years ago, going from 39.3 to 47 percent. We phoned Peter Kanne, pollster of TNS-NIPO.
Q: How do you explain the high turnout in the Netherlands?
A: “I believe we’ll get a circus similar to the one for the referendum about the European Constitution. Euro-skeptic parties like the Socialist Party and the [extreme right] PVV will try to mobilize voters with a simple, anti-European message. This may very well act as a catalyst for both pro- and anti-European voters. With the referendum for the constitution we saw a similar pattern, with a turnout of 63 percent, which is extremely high for a European vote.”
Q: During the referendum 62 % voted against the constitution. Can we expect another Dutch vote against Europe on June 4?
A: “The vote against the constitution was probably not a vote against Europe. On the whole the Dutch are very positive about the Union. 52 % is for, 34 % is neutral and only 14 % is really against. The Achilles heal for the EU in the Netherlands is the perception of Europe as a meddling bureaucracy. But a majority of the Dutch is for a European approach to contintental problems such as climate change, the economic crisis and terrorism.”
As you can see, NRC still doesn’t get it, and the interviewee has to correct the interviewer. How can you work for a so-called quality newspaper and remain so dense for four years?
You’ll find the full article, date April 15, 2009, here, in Dutch.