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Europe braces for Dutch No vote on EU Constitution

[JURIST] Citizens of the Netherlands went to the polls Wednesday to vote on whether to accept the proposed European Constitution [text]. Recent opinion surveys say that nearly 60% of Dutch voters plan to reject the document, citing concerns such as discontent with the Dutch government, rising prices following introduction of the Euro, fears of being engulfed by a super-state, and planned enlargement of the EU to include Turkey. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has urged voters [official statement] to ignore the polls and to view the Constitution as a "positive development." While the Dutch referendum is non-binding, lawmakers have agreed to abide by the results as long as the outcome is clear and turnout is more than 30%. In a major set-back to the new EU pact, France voted No in a referendum Sunday [JURIST report]. The European Constitution needs approval by all 25 EU member nations to take effect in late 2006; observers fear that a No vote in the Netherlands will kill the charter. AP has more.

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