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French 'no' delights Dutch opponents of the EU constitution

The French rejection of the European constitution has given a boost to the Dutch "no" camp, which is already tipped to win the country's own referendum on the treaty on Wednesday.

"Vive la France, Vive la republique, Long live the Netherlands, Long live the kingdom," crowed the right-wing populist List Pim Fortuyn (LPF), which holds eight seats in the 150-member parliament.

"Contrary to what the 'yes' camp says, the 'no' campaign is not divided: we all advocate the preservation of Dutch sovereignty and oppose the forced foundation of a United States of Europe," LPF spokesman Mat Herben said.

"The French 'no' is good news. The arguments of the Dutch government that our country cannot afford to be alone in rejecting the constitution are wrong," spokesman Menno de Bruyne of the Christian SGP, which holds two seats in parliament, told AFP.

"We remain opposed to the treaty, so the French vote changes nothing except that we feel strengthened by it," he added.

Andre Rouwvoet, the front man of the of the ultra-protestant ChristenUnie, which has three seats in parliament, saw the French "no" as a promising sign.

"This is the first time I am enthusiastic about a French revolution."

"This constitution has no soul ... they did not want to put a reference to the European Judeo-Christian tradition in ... this is a rewriting of history of sorts," Rouwvoet argued.

Geert Wilders, who defected from the liberals to form his own eponymous far-right party, of which he holds the sole seat in parliament, welcomed the French vote as "historic".

"This is the beginning of the end of the European super-state," he told the Volkskrant newspaper.

In his campaign Wilders links the question of Turkey's accession to the EU to the referendum on the constitution.

"Decisions have to be taken with a qualified majority of 65 percent of European inhabitants. Big countries will be able to steamroll smaller EU members like the Netherlands."

"With a large number of European directives a large country like Turkey will have in terms of voting weight more influence on Dutch legislation than the Netherlands itself," Wilders argues on his campaign website.

The far-left Socialist Party (SP), with eight seats in parliament the largest opponent to the constitution on a par with the LPF, called for caution following the French vote.

"Who can say what strange things the Dutch government still has in store for us," they said.

The SP urged the Dutch to form their own opinion, although it said "the French 'no' is an additional motivation" for a "no" vote.

SP leader Jan Marijnissen stressed that his party rejected the liberal economic principles written into the constitution.

"We prefer a Europe where people are the priority, not money," he wrote in a weekly Internet blog.

Although the treaty's opponents hold just 22 of the 150 seats in parliament, recent opinion polls indicate the "no" camp can count on a comfortable lead with up to 60 percent of the popular vote.

Although the referendum is non-binding for the government, a majority of political parties have said they would respect the vote if the turnout exceeds 30 percent.

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