EU looks to Dutch vote This WEEK
Dutch voters go to the polls on Wednesday (15 March) in an EU bellwether election after Brexit and Trump.
Geert Wilders, the far-right candidate, could win up to 30 seats, making the man who called Moroccan people “scum” and who says the Netherlands should exit the EU the most popular politician in the country.
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The result would further rattle EU confidence, following Britain’s vote to leave and the election of Donald Trump, a populist, in the US.
It would also indicate that far-right parties might do well in upcoming elections in France and Germany later this year.
Dutch voting ends at 9PM on Wednesday. Pollster Ipsos is due to publish exit figures shortly afterward, but big cities, such as Amsterdam, are to report results after midnight.
Thirty seats would still leave Wilders, a pariah for mainstream parties, far short of the 76-seat majority needed in parliament.
The next government is more likely to formed by the centre-right Liberals of prime minister Mark Rutte, the centre-left Labor party, Christian Democrats, and the centrist D66 party, leading back to business as usual.
The Dutch election comes after a parliamentary vote to elect Hungary’s next president on Monday.
The incumbent, Janos Ader, who is prime minister Viktor Orban’s man, is likely to stay in the post.
But the treatment of an alternative candidate, Laszlo Majtenyi, a liberal jurist who has been vilified as a foreign agent of US philanthropist George Soros, highlights the rise of authoritarian politics in other parts of Europe.
Poland, another increasingly illiberal EU state, will be centre of attention when MEPs speak with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg on Wednesday about last week’s summit.
Poland tried and failed to veto Donald Tusk from staying on as European Council chief, causing a fiasco and triggering an anti-EU hate campaign in Polish state media.
The EU lawmakers will, in day-to-day business, vote on tightening up EU firearms laws on Tuesday.
They will vote on how to stop firms from fuelling war by buying rare minerals from conflict zones on Thursday and they will discuss how the EU should react to Trump’s decision to cut US aid for NGOs dealing with women’s health issues on Wednesday.
A law on company shareholders’ rights (Tuesday), a food standards bill (Wednesday), waste reduction legislation (Wednesday), and a non-binding resolution on how to protect the Arctic from oil firms (Thursday) also feature on the MEPs’ agenda.
EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini will meet with Algeria’s foreign minister in Brussels on Monday to discuss migration and the security situation in the Sahel region.
Algeria’s lawless southern border and the war-torn Sahel area have become part of the transit route for migrants trying to reach the EU in greater numbers via Libya and Italy
Meanwhile, this week's most followed meeting will take place in Washington on Tuesday, when US president Donald Trump meets German chancellor Angela Merkel for the first time.