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Voters overwhelmingly reject EU Constitution


THE HAGUE Dutch voters on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected the European constitution, intensifying the crisis that has seized the 25-member bloc since the French repudiated the treaty on Sunday.

Initial exit polls showed that 62 percent voted against the constitution and 38 in favour – a stronger rejection even than in France, where 55 percent voted no.

The double blow could prove fatal to the European charter, which was drafted in an attempt to streamline decision-making in an expanded union.{{more}}

“The Dutch people won against this crazy constitution,” said Tiny Kox, a member of the small Socialist Party, which was pivotal in the no campaign.

“We had a great debate and I’m really proud of the Dutch,” said Geert Wilders, a rightist populist and one of the earliest no campaigners. “These results are overwhelming. In Parliament two out of three members were in favour, but two out of three citizens have now voted against.”

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who had campaigned for a yes vote, said he was disappointed by the result. But he said the outcome spoke clearly of the Dutch concerns about “loss of sovereignty, the speed of the changes and our financial contribution.”