Thursday

19th Jul 2018

EU relieved by Dutch centre-right win

  • Rutte's win is warmly welcomed in Europe (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

EU leaders congratulated Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and voters for striking a blow against nationalism and populism at the ballot box on Wednesday (15 March).

Rutte himself set the tone by declaring after the exit polls projected his win that after Brexit and after Donald Trump's election as US president the Dutch result was a rejection of "the wrong kind of populism".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

He did not comment on what the right kind of populism might be.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker called Rutte on Wednesday night and also praised the "vote against extremists”, after the far-right and eurosceptic party of Geert Wilders came in second according to early projections.

Italy's premier Paolo Gentiloni said on Twitter: "No #Nexit. The anti-EU right wing has lost an election in the Netherlands. Let's commit together to change and revive the Union!”.

Nexit refers to the Netherland's possible exit from the EU.

Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel also said on Twitter that "populism didn't pay off”.

France's president Francois Hollande said: “I warmly congratulate @markrutte for his clear victory against extremism.”

Emmanuel Macron, a French centrist politician who is running against the far-right leader Marine Le Pen in April’s presidential election, said: "The Netherlands shows us that the breakthrough of the far-right is not inevitable and that European progressives are growing in strength."

Pierre Moscovici, France's EU commissioner, noted that "the Netherlands is showing the way to a European beginning and democratic awakening".

Rutte himself used a soccer analogy for European politics.

He called the Dutch elections the quarterfinals in the EU’s fight against nationalism. He said the French elections would be the semifinals, ahead of the final in German elections in September.

Germany chancellor Angela Merkel's response to his win was characteristically subdued.

"I look forward to further good cooperation as friends, neighbours, Europeans,” Merkel told Rutte by phone according to her spokesman.

Le Pen, as well as British anti-EU politician Nigel Farage, who are normally quick to speak on Twitter, have kept quiet for now.

Meanwhile, Rutte himself took an increasingly tough line on immigration in his campaign to try to beat Wilders.

Turkey also weighed in on Thursday, with its foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, saying there is no difference between Dutch liberals and "fascist" Wilders.

Turkey and the Netherlands has been entrenched in a diplomatic row after the Netherlands did not allow Turkish ministers to hold referendum campaign rallies in Rotterdam. Turkey has called the Netherlands a Nazi country, while Rutte's handling of the issue apparently helped him in the polls.

Dutch group combats Wilders' rhetoric online

Volunteers have gone online for the past two weeks, in an attempt to persuade potential voters for the anti-EU and anti-Islam leader to vote someone else.

Opinion

How to stop the collapse of the Dutch left

Despite the sighs of relief that Geert Wilders did not win the Dutch election, there has been a worrying fragmentation and defeat of the left in the Netherlands.

EUobserved

How radical is Italy's Savona really?

Italy is in a political crisis because president Sergio Mattarella has rejected Paolo Savona as a cabinet member, for his views on the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson slams 'dithering' May in resignation speech
  2. EU border guards to be sent to Macedonia
  3. Juncker investment plan exceeds target
  4. EU will reply 'tit for tat' to US trade measures
  5. EU Commission registers Brexit citizenship petition
  6. EU launches pre-accession probe for Albania and Macedonia
  7. Google faces multibillion euro EU fine for Android
  8. EU wants more guarantees from VW on Dieselgate fix

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us