International

An unexpected victory

On this last Wednesday, Dutch people came back to poll stations to renew their lower Chamber due to the resignation of the Premier Mark Rutte, after Geert Wilders, the PPV populist leader withdrew his support to liberal – Christian-democrat coalition on the last Spring.

Mark Rutte, Dutch Premier and VVD (liberal) leader just after the announcement of the results, the 12th of September

This election, the fifth in ten years, was very expected and followed in the context of the crisis within the EU and marked by the come-back of the pro-Europeans parties after a populist wave started ten years ago with the former far-right leader, Pim Fortyun. For a while, the PVV and the SP (Socialistische Partij) were considered as the favourites of the ballot, the far Left party even hoping to cause a stir. During the campaign, the PVV as the SP focused their strategy on a questioning of the European integration and even a way out of the European Union, a seducing argument in a traditionally euro-sceptic country. Emile Roemer, the SP leader, promised to question the new growth and stability treaty harshly negotiated, if he won the election and became the new Prime minister of the Netherlands. As Burgoon Brian, associate professor at Amsterdam University, explained for Euronews: “There are very strong divisions on these issues, in the context of economic crisis, and in the context of a variety of crises in Europe of the euro and sovereignty debt, you see a very strong increase on both poles of the political spectrum”

Geert Wilders, PVV (populist) leader, just after the results

This strategy was not approved by the Dutch voters if we refer to the outcomes announced by NOS. According to the State television, the Mark Rutte’s VVD (liberal party) and the PvdA (labour party) are the main winners of the ballot with 41 and 39 seats respectively. The Geert Wilders party undergoes an important decline, passing from 24 to 15 seats and the Emile Roemer’s SP get a disappointing results, far the forecast made by the opinion poll institutes which predicted about thirty MPs for the Left euro-sceptic party, which was enough to weigh within the Parliament.

The PVV and SP decline may be explained by a certain realism in the Dutch people vis-à-vis the crisis and the put forward solutions. Face to seducing but radical Geert Wilders and Emile Roemer’s proposals, the Batavian voters finally chose pragmatism, giving their votes to two traditional parties. VVD and PvdA understood it insofar as if their respective leaders reaffirmed their European commitment they were, in the contrary, more moderate and evasive about the solution to bring but more stead on the current led policies vis-à-vis Greece and the Eurozone mainly.

As Paul Scheffer, Dutch sociologist, indicates in the French daily, Le Monde, “the external policy became an internal one or largely influenced the national debate”, which probably explains the success of the liberals and the labour members who are probably ruling the Netherlands within a new coalition insofar as neither VVD, nor PvdA got the absolute majority. The task will not be easy due to some points of divergences which still are between the two winners as the Euro crisis and the attitude to get vis-à-vis Greece, which favours a fragile coalition probably extended to the D66 (the Left liberals) and CDA, in spite of crushing defeat of the Christian-democrat party. Nonetheless, the pro-Europeans parties electoral performance (excepted CDA which gets less ten seats, the worst result since the existence of the party) shows despites the crisis and austerity plans imposed by the Mark Rutte outgoing government, Dutch people finally preferred pragmatic and realist solutions to uncertain and radical measures. Moreover, the Dutch elections confirm a tendency which is the populist movements fail to grab the wrath of citizens enough to snap the vote as the previous elections in Greece, Portugal and Ireland (the most EU member States touched by the crisis) showed.

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