Lessons from Netherlands

Lessons from Netherlands

Holland, officially, the only country of the 28 that has not ratified the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine adopted by the Dutch Parliament. The objective of the agreement, signed in 2013, is to promote political dialogue and develop the economy of Ukraine. The referendum went ahead thanks to a Eurosceptic digital environment and the action of a group of same - significantly called Geenpeil profile, Clueless - which took the government has just lowered the necessary 300,000 signatures to call a referendum on any matter. The he did not win, but more than two - thirds of voters stayed home. Only 20% of the electorate supports the negative.

Above the difficulties of the Dutch government to manage the outcome and complications that can arise for Brussels, what happened interesting lessons for all extracted. It has become a commonplace to say that representative democracy is in crisis and you need to open new channels to give citizens a voice in public affairs. In the catalog of measures aimed at correcting this alleged deficit of representation are the use of referenda, advisory or binding; popular legislative initiatives, whose use is intended to stimulate; the recall commands that allow depose public office without calling elections; or electronic mechanisms of direct democracy, which in theory would allow parliaments without a large number of topics.

But as evidenced by the case of the Netherlands, however discredited that is representative democracy, direct democracy mechanisms that arise as an alternative are far from a panacea. On the contrary, as we see throughout Europe-from Greece to the UK via Hungary and the Netherlands, referenda are likely to become the favorite tool of populist to delegitimize democracies, put in crisis the European project and, to make matters worse in this case, make a huge gift to Putin, recipient of the consultation on Wednesday and allegedly ultimately responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight in July 2014 that killed nearly 300 people.

Again, as in most referendums on European issues during the last two decades, the electorate has not answered the question that has been asked, but which had wanted to be formulated; Also ignoring the consequences of their vote. However, the high abstention rate of nearly 70%, is the most relevant data. If direct democracy does not improve participation with respect to representative democracy and discredits over the political system, its usefulness is diluted completely.

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