Monday

22nd Oct 2018

No referendum on Constitution in Belgium

The Belgian liberal prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, has lost the political backing needed to have a referendum on the European Constitution, according to Belgian media reports.

Over the weekend, his social-liberal coalition partner, the Spirit party, made a political u-turn and decided on Sunday to drop its previous support for a referendum on the Constitution.

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The Flemish Spirit party defended its move by saying it was concerned that the referendum would be hijacked by the far-right Vlaams Belang party campaigning against Turkish membership of the EU.

The Chairman of the Spirit party Geert Lambert said nobody is speaking of the Constitution but only of eventual Turkish EU membership, according to Le Soir.

Deprived of support from the Spirit party, Mr Verhofstadt no longer has a majority in the parliament which supports holding a referendum.

The Belgian socialist party is also opposed to a referendum.

UK referendum

And across the Channel, the ratification of the Constitution by the UK Parliament could be delayed, according to the Financial Times.

The bill to ratify the constitutional treaty and pave the way for a referendum is not now expected to become law until December or January.

The referendum is expected to take place in May or June next year.

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