Just days after the French people stunned the world by rejecting the proposed European Union Constitution and humiliating the Chirac government, Dutch voters turned the constitution down in a landslide vote. At least 61 percent of Dutch voters rejected the constitution, probably spelling the doom of hopes for a centralized European government.
As in France, the government had pushed for an affirmation of the constitution. But Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende did not make the issue a matter of personal ambition and pride, in contrast to French President Jacques Chirac. “The government will respect the vote,” Mr. Balkenende told reporters.
Now, the big question is how European leaders will respond to the French and Dutch rejections. The already-suspicious British are likely to be emboldened by the votes, and the ambitious plan for a Unites States of Europe makes no sense without France and the Netherlands. The momentum has turned against the vision of the political elites.
As Robert H. Reid of The Associated Press explained, “The common thread appears to be public rejection of the notion, at least for now, of a European superstate. That is a goal never explicitly articulated by national leaders who support the charter and even denied by some, yet it is implicit in the structures the constitution would establish.”
Czech President Vaclav Klaus simply declared, “The constitution, in this version, is history.” He added: “My fears that the European constitution, with the ambitions it had, would not contribute to the unification of Europe, but will damage the process of European integration, were fulfilled.”
Americans had no direct stake in these elections, but the dream of a secular utopia in a centralized Europe was dangerous and untenable from the start. Furthermore, the loss of national sovereignty for the sake of building a new European superpower was just too high a price to pay. The elites have been humbled by the people, whose hopes and dreams were never pinned on a European superstate.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Check out The New York Times, The Houston Chronicle [Associated Press], The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian [London], Forbes, and The Times [London].  See also the text of the treaty for the proposed constitution, from Europa/European Union.