Now there has been a vote for “Brexit,” there are calls in other countries for people to have their say on the EU, but, though they have inherited the pithy naming formulation — from “Frexit” and “Nexit” through to “Oexit” — the proposed referendums vary depending on what they want, what they are motivated by and how likely they are to happen.
On Brexit morning, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage suggested that the Netherlands might be the next country to quit the “dying” EU.
Illustration: Mountain people
“We may well be close, perhaps, to a Nexit,” he said.
A poll published on Sunday by peil.nl found a slim majority in favor of holding a referendum — 50 percent to 47 percent — but also, to Farage’s likely chagrin, a majority for staying in the EU — 46 percent to 43 percent.
Among voters with the lowest educational profile the appetite for Nexit was much stronger — 69 percent favor holding a referendum and 64 percent would vote leave.
“If a referendum is held we would expect that, just as in Britain, the turnout among lower educated voters will be relatively high,” poll organizer Maurice de Hond said.
Those voters are also more likely to support far-right Dutch Party for Freedom founder Geert Wilders, whose party has a substantial lead in the opinion polls. Wilders pledged on Friday last week to make a UK-style referendum one of the key issues in the Dutch general election campaign in March next year.
A Nexit referendum before then is very unlikely. No other Dutch political party supports such a move and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, dismissed the idea as “utterly irresponsible.”
He has urged his European colleagues to work toward a settlement with Britain that prioritizes stability and “reflects the friendly cooperation of the last 40 years.”
French Front National leader Marine Le Pen has suggested that France could follow Britain in leaving the EU, hailing the Brexit vote as the beginning of “a movement that can’t be stopped.”
Le Pen has said that if she wins the French presidential election in April next year, she would hold an in-out referendum on the country’s membership of the EU within six months.
That, though, remains a big “if” — even though she is expected to comfortably reach the final round of the presidential run-off.
However, to all mainstream politicians the idea of a Frexit is abhorrent. French President Francois Hollande is in favor of France remaining within the EU, as are his opponents on the center-right.
“This is a painful choice and it is deeply regrettable both for the UK and Europe,” Hollande said in the wake of Britain’s vote.
For Brussels, the biggest threat from Italy comes from the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which recently saw candidates elected as mayors of Rome and Turin and wants a referendum on leaving the eurozone.
Trouble is, no matter how much Beppe Grillo, the comedian who founded the M5S, might push the plebiscite, most Italians — 61 percent according to a poll in March — support remaining in the single currency.
The other main euroskeptic force in the country is the anti-immigration Northern League, whose leader, Matteo Salvini, tweeted last week : “Hurrah for the courage of free citizens! Heart, brain and pride defeated lies, threats and blackmail. THANK YOU UK, now it’s our turn.”
Salvini said it was time for Italians to be allowed a referendum on the issue of EU membership and the party would start a petition calling for a referendum.
However, the Northern League’s support is limited — at the last general election in 2013 it scored a miserable 4 percent — and its calls will not be heeded. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is a committed, if critical, europhile who launched an emotional plea to the UK to vote “Remain” on the eve of last week’s referendum.
Norbert Hofer, the far-right candidate who narrowly missed out on winning the Austrian presidential election last month, has said that his country should have a referendum on EU membership if, within a year, Brussels makes any moves towards political “centralization” and fails to refocus on its original role as an economic and trade alliance.
The Austrian media have dubbed the potential vote “Auxit” or “Oexit” — a reference to Oesterreich, which means Austria in German, but Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern has said there will be no referendum.
Hofer, hailing from the anti-immigration Freedom Party, in an interview on Sunday said that the EU should be about economic rather than political cooperation and any moves toward centralization should be resisted.
He has gone further in his comments than Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache, who has said that an Austrian referendum on the issue might become a party objective in the future.
Hofer is challenging the result of the presidential election that he narrowly lost, alleging there were irregularities in the counting of postal ballots.
However, even if the Freedom Party’s challenge is successful, the president alone does not have the power to order a referendum.
Leader of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats Jimmie Akesson has said he hopes that Sweden might be able to renegotiate its relationship with the EU and then hold a referendum on membership.
“I see nothing negative about leaving this supranational European Union,” said Akesson, who has repeatedly called for Sweden to “become a sovereign state again.”
The Sweden Democrats hold the balance of power in Stockholm. The party attracted 12.9 percent of the vote in the 2014 election, but saw their support rise to about 20 percent last year as Sweden took in a record number of refugees and tensions around immigration flared.
All of Sweden’s mainstream parties, including the Social Democrat-Green government and the center-right opposition, the Moderates, support the Scandinavian country, which joined the EU in 1995 after a 1994 referendum, continuing as a member of the EU.
European Parliament member for the right-wing Alternative for Germany party Beatrix von Storch celebrated Brexit as “Great Britain’s independence day” and has previously called for a similar referendum to be held in Germany, saying Germans “should be given a voice.”
After the referendum result was announced on Friday last week, she also called for European Parliament President Martin Schulzt and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to resign.
However, despite a recent growth in support for the Alternative party, Germans remain broadly in favor of remaining in the union, with about 40 percent believing a referendum on the subject should be held and less than 35 percent saying they would vote to leave.
The powerful far-right Danish People’s party, which hailed the Brexit vote as a “stinging slap to the whole system,” has said it wants a Danish referendum on less binding conditions of EU membership — not on membership itself.
However, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who relies on the support of the Danish People’s party to prop up his minority administration, said there would be no such vote.
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