A peculiar spectacle in Second Chamber today. Harry van Bommel (Socialist Party; picture) took the current cabinet to task over its decision to withhold countersign to any initiative law ordering a referendum on the Turnip.

Harry van Bommel is the (unlikely) hero submitting a proposal for such an initiative, which he formally did today in a rather less then well attended plenary session of Second Chamber. During the debate he produced a copy of the 'list of decisions' from the council of ministers (the formal weekly cabinet sit together) of Friday September 21, which corroborates the report by the Volkskrant (NL) reported earlier.

Since the List of Decisions is officially a state secret (why is that, btw?) PM Balkenende found himself in the peculiar position of not being able to defend himself. Not that such a defence would have helped him, because the document produced by van Bommel spells it out in fine detail (NL):
The members of the council shall not lend their support to endorsement of any initiative proposal for a law to hold a referendum on the outcome of the Intergovernmental Conference for the revision of the treaty about the EU and the treaty for the establishment of the European Union as attached to the conclusions of the European Council of 21-23 July 2007.
As GeenStijl (NL) points out, legally van Bommel is guilty of divulging secret information. Yet, before anyone accuses van Bommel of treason, consider which is the greater evil: Selling out ones country to a non-democratic, potentially totalitarian trans-national cabal, or exposing it, even if one needs to resort to divulging state secrets?

The fact that this government is willing to completely bypass parliamentarian accountability in such a brazen manner on this issue should give anyone pause. Evidently the Turnip is not only in need of the big lie to be acceptable. It also needs strong-arming the supposedly democratic process which is now recruited to sign away the sovereignty of the Netherlands. Who'd have thought this would be the state of affairs in contemporary Netherlands even as little as two years ago?

This document does, of course, explain the PvdA's (not quite unexpected) reversal of the promises made in their manifesto. A reversal that made a majority for a proposed referendum a non-starter. After all, why risk a crisis for a losing proposition? However, now that things are out in the open we are presented with an entirely new situation. Whether this will change anything will depend on the reaction of the grey huddled masses: Are they jaded enough to let this cabinet get away with the con of the century, or are they finally waking up to the fact that they are taken for a momentous ride and do something about it?

[UPADTE001] For those that are interested the minutes of this plenary session (NL) are up on page II of KV.


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