Julian Assange

sábado, 29 de janeiro de 2011


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05THEHAGUE1434 2005-05-26 16:04 2011-01-17 00:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy The Hague
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

261646Z May 05
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 THE HAGUE 001434 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/23/2015 

33343,5/26/2005 16:46,05THEHAGUE1434,"Embassy The
Hague",CONFIDENTIAL,05THEHAGUE393,"This record is a partial extract of the
original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
261646Z May 05
","C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 THE HAGUE 001434
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/23/2015
1. (C) SUMMARY: With polls showing a clear majority opposed
to ratifying the EU Constitutional Treaty, the Dutch
government is belatedly stepping up its efforts to obtain a
""Yes"" vote in the June 1 referendum. At the same time, Prime
Minister Balkenende is actively distancing his government
from the results of the referendum and seeking to shift
responsibility for dealing with a defeat to Parliament.
Opponents and supporters of the Treaty agree that voter
dissatisfaction with the Dutch and European political
establishment is a major motivation for ""No"" voters. Both
sides concede that a ""Yes"" vote is not completely out of the
question, and at least one recent poll suggests that the tide
might be starting to turn, but there is very little time to
turn the electorate around. The Balkenende government will
almost certainly survive a negative outcome, but such a
public defeat will provide a clear boost to
populist/nationalist politicians hoping to capitalize on
public discontent in the runup to parliamentary elections
scheduled for 2007. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) With all recent polls showing the ""No"" camp likely to
prevail -- possibly by 60 percent or more -- in the June 1
referendum on the EU's Constitutional Treaty, the Dutch
government is stepping up its ""Yes"" campaign while seeking to
minimize the political consequences of a defeat. In several
recent interviews, Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende reminded
voters that the referendum was a parliamentary initiative
initially opposed by the two largest members of his coalition
government; a vote against the referendum, therefore, would
not be taken as a vote of no-confidence in his government.
Some observers give Balkenende credit for at least making an
effort in support of the Treaty despite his skepticism about
the referendum while the main opposition Labor Party/PvdA,
which was largely responsible for pushing the referendum
legislation through parliament, has been missing in action.
Far more, however, blame Balkenende and his government for
incompetently managing the issue from the beginning. Geert
Wilders, the maverick Dutch populist politician who has
become one of the most visible leaders of the ""No"" campaign,
told POLCOUNS on May 24 that the government's missteps had
probably done more to boost the ""No"" vote than any efforts by
opponents of the treaty.
3. (C) Both camps agree that many ""No"" voters are basing
their decision on factors unrelated to the Treaty itself.
Frustration with Balkenende (whose personal popularity
ratings are at an all time low, hovering around 16 percent)
and anger at a perceived Dutch-European political elite that
pays little attention to the concerns of common citizens are
clearly fueling the ""No"" movement. A group of students from
Leiden University told the DCM on May 18 that they intended
to vote against the Treaty precisely because Balkenende was
""telling them to vote for it."" Strong supporters of the
treaty such as Lousewies van der Laan (foreign policy
spokesman for the Liberal Democrat/D-66 party) and Jan
Gooijenbier (a public relations/marketing expert brought in
to head the government's Referendum Task Force) admitted in
recent meetings with POLCOUNS that overcoming the public's
lack of confidence in the current Dutch leadership and EU
institutions has been the hardest hurdle for the ""Yes"" camp
to overcome. During his current bus ""tourNEE"" of the
Netherlands, Wilders claimed to have been surprised by the
""level of hate"" routinely expressed for Balkenende's
government, and agreed that for many the vote would be ""all
about a lack of trust."" The ""No"" campaign also draws
strength from an eclectic mix of parties on the left
(Socialist Party) and right (including the two small
Christian parties) worried that a strengthened EU will reduce
their ability to influence domestic politics, as well as a
host of single-issue voters opposed to Turkish accession,
increased immigration, and expansion of the EURO zone among
other issues.
4. (C) The fact that this will be the first national
referendum in modern Dutch history, and that it is
technically non-binding, has also played strongly into the
hands of the ""No"" camp. According to Gooijenbier, the
government's own polls suggest that many voters see the
current referendum as an opportunity to vent retroactively on
earlier decisions made without their input, such as switching
from the guilder to the EURO (a move many blame for
subsequent inflation) and EU expansion (including possibly to
Turkey). The polls also show that most voters believe that
their vote in a non-binding referendum will not be taken
seriously, and therefore feel comfortable casting ""protest""
vote without regard to consequences. (Note: Although the
referendum is legally non-binding, most political parties
have announced formula under which they would ""accept"" the
results; the Christian Democrats, for example, insist on a 30
percent turnout with 60 percent opposed; others, such as the
Liberal Democrats (pro) and Socialists (con) will accept any
result regardless of turnout or margin of victory.) Recent
statements by opposition leader Wouter Bos suggesting that a
""No"" vote could lead to a second referendum were quickly
seized upon as further evidence that the political
establishment will ignore the people's will if faced with a
negative vote. Foreign Minister Bot's suggestion in
parliament on May 23 that those wavering about the Treaty
should stay home rather than vote no further reinforced the
view that the government just doesn't ""get it.""
5. (C) The ""Yes"" camp has been plagued from the beginning by
disagreements over strategy and message. While some advised
minimizing the impact of a negative outcome by seeking to
reduce turnout (ref a), others -- including Justice Minister
Donner and Economic Affairs Minister/Deputy Prime Minister
Brinkhorst -- engaged in scare tactics, suggesting that a
""no"" vote could return Europe to an era of chaos and war no
seen in the past 60 years. Not surprisingly, the public
reacted negatively to both tactics. The media and public
have also been quick to point out apparent divisions within
the cabinet, as when Finance Minister/Deputy Prime Minister
Zalm reportedly refused to join the rest of the Cabinet in
personally handing out pro-treaty leaflets outside the Prime
Minister's office. (Balkenende recently began hosting daily
strategy sessions with key cabinet officials, including Bot,
Zalm, Brinkhorst, and State Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Atzo Nicolai to ensure all agree on a single, coordinated
message.) Even more damaging has been the failure of the
government and the opposition PvdA party to develop a
coordinated strategy in favor of the Treaty. During a recent
meeting with Ambassador Sobel and POLCOUNS, Wouter Bos openly
admitted that he found it distasteful to be seen cooperating
with the government as the head of the opposition, even
though a vote against the treaty would essentially harm both
as members of the political ""establishment.""
6. (C) The government was restrained from campaigning
aggressively in favor of the Treaty both by Dutch tradition
and by the referendum legislation, which tasked the
government with administering the referendum in a neutral
fashion. As noted ref. a, the ""revelation"" that the
government had established a contingency fund of 1.5 million
Euros to counter negative campaigning triggered a
mini-scandal in parliament. The government's over-reliance
on ""information"" -- its first pro-Treaty hand-out consisted
entirely of excerpts from the Treaty text -- and speeches by
government officials to pitch the treaty backfired, with
voters reacting indifferently to the first and negatively to
the second. Farah Karimi, a Green-Left member of parliament
and one of the three original sponsors of the referendum
legislation, told POLCOUNS on May 26 that most members of
parliament ""never dreamed"" that the Dutch public would reject
the treaty, so did not make any provisions for a ""pro""
7. (C) All parties agree that the results of the May 29
referendum in France will influence the Dutch vote, but
opinions vary on exactly how. Arno Brouwers, a journalist
for Volkskrant, jokingly told POLCOUNS that a French ""Non""
could be the only thing that would convince the Dutch to vote
""Ja,"" as it would give Dutch voters a new target for
expressing their frustration. Geert Wilders similarly
suggested that some ""no"" voters might reconsider their view
of the Treaty if the French reject it, reflecting the
commonly-held view that what is good for France in the EU is
generally bad for the Netherlands. A more likely scenario,
however, is that a negative result in France would convince
many voters to remain home on June 1, lowering overall
turnout but probably raising the ""no"" percentage. According
to Gooijenbier, the government has developed two campaigns to
follow the French vote referendum. If the vote is positive,
the government will stress that ""280 million Europeans are
already in favor of the Treaty;"" if not, then the theme will
be along the lines of: ""Don't let the French tell you how to
vote."" According to the British Embassy, Prime Minister
Balkenende has also quietly asked Prime Minister Blair to
weigh in with Dutch voters following the French vote, either
by traveling to the Netherlands (doubtful, according to the
UK Embassy) or by recording a direct appeal for broadcast.
The option of canceling the Dutch referendum is not on the
8. (C) Despite most polls showing a growing a clear majority
opposing the treaty, both camps are stepping up their
campaigns in the final days before the referendum. The
government, having recently defeated a court action intended
to prevent it from spending additional funds on the ""Yes""
campaign, has just budgeted an additional 7 million Euros for
an intense pro-Treaty print and radio advertising blitz,
according to Gooijenbier. (Gooijenbier noted that he had
also proposed television advertising, but that the Cabinet
decided engaging in ""partisan"" television advertising was ""a
bridge too far."") Familiar national figures, including all
four living former Prime Ministers, have started to campaign
actively in favor of the Treaty. Gooijenbier cited a May 23
poll showing a slight decrease in the number of ""No"" voters
(from 60 percent to 57 percent) and increase in ""Yes"" voters
(from 40 percent to 43 percent) although they still
constituted a majority) as evidence that Dutch voters might
be starting to ""wake up and pay attention"" to the possible
consequences of a negative vote. Van der Laan, who last week
predicted a ""colossal no"" in a press interview, privately
suggested that the government might just barely pull ""a
rabbit out of a hat"" but was not optimistic. Wilders also
conceded that a dramatic turnaround in voter sentiment was
not out of the question, and put the chances of a ""Yes"" vote
at about 20 percent.
9. (C) Partly to convince voters to take the referendum
seriously, the government has deliberately refrained from
engaging in debate over what would happen in case of a ""No""
vote, and in fact appears to have no ""Plan B."" Parliament
will almost certainly insist on a debate on the Treaty --
which is already in Parliament and should be ratified before
November 2006 -- within days of the referendum, regardless of
the outcome. If there is a negative result, the government
will probably argue that it has done its duty and any further
steps are the responsibility of Parliament, which forced the
referendum on the government in the first place. Balkenende
has stated for the record that he and his government will not
resign in the event of a negative result, although some
observers speculate privately that State Secretary for
Foreign Affairs Atzo Nicolai, as the Cabinet member directly
responsible for European integration issues, might choose to
leave the government. A Nicolai resignation would probably
not bring down the government, however, as under the
coalition agreement his party (Conservative Liberal/VVD)
could replace him from its ranks. Unless turnout is so small
as to be absolutely meaningless, any effort to proceed with
ratification following a ""No"" vote would provoke a more
serious political crisis, as coalition partner the Liberal
Democrats/D-66 is on the record refusing to accede to such a
plan. Most likely, the government and parliament will decide
to delay definitive action for some period of time to see how
the Treaty is received in other European countries holding
10. (C) On paper, the pro-Treaty coalition is impressive: 85
percent of parliamentarians, all major unions and employer
associations, most major media, and many notable public
figures have come out in favor of the Treaty. The fact that
these traditional sources of influence have failed to produce
a positive majority is viewed by many as proof that the
populist ""revolution"" against the traditional political elite
begun by Pim Fortuyn continues to be a major factor in Dutch
politics. While a ""Yes"" vote is not impossible, there is
very little time left to turn around a deeply skeptical and
angry electorate, and the government has so far shown little
skill in guiding public opinion effectively. There is little
question that Balkenende's coalition government will survive
a ""No"" vote in the short term, as all three partners are down
in the polls and desperate to avoid early elections. That
said, a highly visible defeat in the referendum would clearly
undermine Balkenende's standing among his European colleagues
and would heighten the domestic perception of him as a weak
and ineffectual leader. Although the Labor Party/PvdA, as
the main opposition party in Parliament, might gain a few
poll points at Balkenende's expense, the real winners are
likely to be populist, nationalist figures like Geert
Wilders, who will seek to transfer the anti-establishment,
anti-EU votes into a real political force prior to the 2007

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