Fri, Jul 01, 2016 - Page 9 News List

‘Frexit,’ ‘Nexit’ or ‘Oexit’? Who will be next to leave the EU?

After the UK backed withdrawing from the EU, politicians elsewhere are calling for referendums in their own countries

By Kate Lyons and Gordon Darroch  /  The Guardian

Illustration: Mountain people

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.

“We may well be close, perhaps, to a Nexit,” he said.

A poll published on Sunday by 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.

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