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DID this EU supporter BREAK the LAW in DISCUSSING the DUTCH EXIT POLL?

I found this fascinating article at the BBC website about how potentially it is ILLEGAL (under UK law but really EU imposed law) to even discuss any sort of exit poll numbers prior to the broadcast of the vote (scheduled for about 5 pm EDT here in Virginia).

Here’s the law (thanks to the BBC):

30. – (1) No person shall in the case of a European Parliamentary election publish before the close of the poll –

(a) any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election where that statement is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information given by voters after they have voted, or

(b) any forecast as to the result of the election which is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information so given.

(2) If a person acts in contravention of paragraph (1), he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months.

(3) In this regulation –

“close of the poll” means, in the case of a general election of MEPs, the close of the polling in the Member State whose electors are the last to vote in the election;

“forecast” includes estimate;

“publish” means make available to the public at large, or any section of the public, in whatever form and by whatever means;

and any reference to the result of an election is a reference to the result of the election either as a whole or so far as any particular registered party or individual candidate at the election is or are concerned.

So the BBC decided not to discuss the Dutch exit poll.  (Sounds like what we would call in good ol’ Virginia a class 2 misdemeanor.)

With this in mind – and the fact that most countries in the EU do not vote until Sunday – several UK-based news organisations including the BBC concluded that it was not possible to report details of the Dutch exit poll and remain within election law.

But that did not stop this high level pro-EU politician from doing exactly that:

“At the end of the campaign, and after reflection, the Dutch have drawn the conclusion that the European Union means strength and extreme nationalism is a danger,” said Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the liberal alliance and a former prime minister of Belgium whose group may win up to 70 seats in parliament.

He even used the poll to encourage more pro-EU voting:

“On Sunday, the only alternative is to vote for candidates with strong liberal and democratic values.”

Here’s a broader version:

Liberal candidate to become EU Commission president, Guy Verhofstadt, said in a statement: “This upset announced regarding the Dutch populists is a scathing rebuttal to all those who claim that results are a given in advance of this crucial election. All polls predicted that Geert Wilders, the ally of Marine Le Pen and his friend Nigel Farage, would come in first. Finally, he is fourth behind D66 and VVD who are seated with the ALDE Group in the European Parliament.”

“The Dutch rejected the Constitutional Treaty by referendum in 2005. Since then they have been plagued by doubts about the European project and subjected to rowdy nationalist and xenophobic propaganda. At the end of the campaign, and after reflection, the Dutch have drawn the conclusion: the European Union means strength, and extreme nationalism is a danger.”

Now in fairness, the Netherlands do allow exit polls in elections.  Here is a  summary of Dutch election law:

Estimation / publication of results

Directly after the end of the elections the results of every polling station will be published. The results per municipality will not be published directly. On the 25th of May 2014, when all polling stations throughout the European Union have been closed, the total results (per municipality) will be published.

Now I would say it is likely that some lied to an exit pollster (I have never been asked but my position is I don’t reveal who I voted for unless I think the results will help my candidate or party) but there may also be unofficial results based on the announcement by local Dutch election officials.

I do think the EU politician did not technically break any law but he did certain violate the European Commission’s “request” that no results but discussed until after all EU member states vote (most of them vote today).  Here is an article on that.

The European Commission thinks that otherwise voters in other member states with a later voting day will be influenced. The vast majority of member states will vote on Sunday.

I can guarantee that if 89% of the Dutch voted to pitch the EU and the results were published, there would be outcry and maybe even prosecution!  The EU leaders seem to follow their own law.  And the ends justify the means for most EU officials.  Remember this next time some US politician says the EU is great or a harmless little thing.  NO!  The EU is not our friend.

 

 

 

 

 

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood “Sandy” Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia’s first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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