Sunday

24th Mar 2019

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.

... or 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.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us