(AP) Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected the European constitution in a referendum Wednesday, exit polls projected, in what could be a knockout blow for the charter roundly defeated just days ago by France.
An exit poll projection broadcast by state-financed NOS television said the referendum failed by a vote of 63 percent to 37 percent. The turnout was 62 percent, exceeding all expectations, the broadcaster said.
Although the referendum was consultative, the high turnout and the decisive margin left no room for the Dutch parliament to turn its back on the people’s verdict. The parliament meets Thursday to discuss the results.
The constitution was designed to further unify the 25-nation bloc and give it more clout on the world stage. But the draft document needs approval from all the nations to take effect in late 2006, and the “no” vote in both France and the Netherlands — founding members of the bloc — was a clear message European integration has gone awry.