Dutch Labour party against referendum on EU treaty

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AMSTERDAM, Sep 25 (Reuters) The Dutch Labour party decided against holding a referendum on the new EU treaty today, dashing the hopes of opposition parties seeking enough parliamentary support to force a public vote.

The Dutch government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats, Labour and Christian Union, decided on Friday it would ratify the proposed EU reform treaty without a referendum as the treaty lacks constitutional elements.

But the Socialist Party, which is the main opposition party in parliament, said it would propose an initiative law to force the government to hold a referendum, hoping to get some support from Labour lawmakers as some party members were divided on the issue.

European Union leaders agreed in June on a blueprint for the treaty to overhaul the enlarged 27-nation bloc's creaking institutions, replacing a more ambitious EU constitution that was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

The Netherlands had the biggest anti-constitution vote of the four member states that held plebiscites, with 62 per cent of voters saying ''No'', partly because of concerns of a loss of national identity and hostility to further EU enlargement.

REUTERS AE RAI2137

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