Dutch Socialists want referendum on EU fiscal compact

AMSTERDAM Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:14am EDT

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The party leading opinion polls ahead of next month's Dutch general election said on Thursday it would demand a referendum on the European Union's fiscal compact, a core element in Europe's attempts to fix its debt crisis.

Emile Roemer, the leader of the Socialist Party who is seen as a candidate for prime minister, said in a newspaper interview that any further transfers of sovereignty to the European Union from The Netherlands would need to be ratified in a referendum.

Confirming the comment, a spokesman for the party said this commitment included the fiscal pact which was drawn up by the European Union to impose stricter fiscal rules on member countries in an effort to stave off future debt crises such as that battering the euro zone.

"Economic policy can and must not be reduced to a set of rules which prescribe debt reduction," the party spokesperson told Reuters.

"We ... will resist the treaty on stability, coordination and governance," he added.

Under EU ratification rules, The Netherlands' endorsement is not required, but as a member of the euro zone's core economies its absence would be significant.

The Socialists, however, would almost certainly be in a coalition and it is far from certain that their partners would go along with the idea of a referendum.

The Socialist Party is forecast to win as many as 37 out of 150 seats in the Dutch parliament in elections on September 12, which would make it the largest party.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Gilbert Kreijger; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt and Jon Boyle)

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