Thursday

25th May 2017

Dutch set to defy austerity as left takes poll lead

  • Will Liberal Mark Rutte be toppled in the Dutch elections? (Photo: NewsPhoto!)

The left-wing Socialist party is expected to seize the largest gains in September's Dutch elections, threatening to deprive German Chancellor Angela Merkel of one of her closest allies in response to the eurozone debt crisis.

With Dutch voters set to go to the polls on 12 September 12, opinion polls indicated that the Socialist party, which has never formed part of a government, is running marginally ahead of caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Liberal party (VVD).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

According to a survey released on Wednesday (22 August) by opinion pollsters TNS-Nipo, both parties are projected to win 34 seats in the 150 member Parliament, with the centre-left Labour party (PvdA) expected to poll in third place with 21 seats. A poll of polls compiled this week by the University of Leiden pegs the Socialist and VVD parties at 35 and 33 seats respectively.

The election, which takes place on the same day as the German constitutional court rules on whether the European Stability Mechanism, the permanent EU bail-out fund, breaches national law, comes after the centre-right coalition led by Liberal leader Mark Rutte collapsed in April over budget cuts.

The Socialist party is more eurosceptic than the mainstream Dutch parties, leading opposition to the ill-fated Constitutional Treaty which was defeated in a 2005 referendum. It also opposed EU bail-out packages and the European Stability Mechanism, and is against further moves towards fiscal federalism in the eurozone.

Last week, the Socialist party leader Emile Roemer promised to hold a referendum on the fiscal compact treaty, describing it as "idiotic" to impose a 3% limit on budget deficits. The treaty, which was designed by Merkel and former French President Nikolas Sarkozy, and enthusiastically backed by Rutte, would put the deficit and debt brakes from the Stability and Growth Pact into national constitutions.

Although Rutte's Liberal party are expected to make slight gains on the 31 seats claimed in 2010, with no party likely to score a decisive victory the election is likely to lead to lengthy negotiation to fashion a coalition government. The Rutte government was cobbled together in October 2010 after four months of negotiations.

Geert Wilders' Freedom party (PVV) is expected to lose up to ten of their 24 seats. Wilders', whose party courted controversy earlier this year over its website calling on people to report unruly immigrants, toppled the Rutte administration in April by walking out of negotiations for further budget cuts demanded by the European Commission.

Rutte had promised to make further spending cuts in a bid to reduce the country's 4.7% deficit in 2011 below the 3% threshold. Wilders's deputies had voted with the government to give it a parliamentary majority. Meanwhile, economic data released on Friday (24 August) by the Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB) forecast that the country's deficit would fall to 2.7% in 2013, with the economy expected to grow by 0.75%.

Dutch far-right opens new, anti-EU website

In a replay of events earlier this year when it launched an anti-immigrant website, the Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) have set up a new protest portal - this time against the EU.

Tough talk on Europe as Dutch go to polls

In the run-up to election day in the Netherlands, there was much tough talk on Europe. But a lot of it was campaign rhetoric and polls suggest a more balanced outcome.

MEPs vote to start democracy probe on Hungary

The European Parliament took the first step towards launching the Article 7 procedure against Hungary for backsliding on democracy. The process might lead to sanctions, but Orban is not backing down.

Schulz fails to beat Merkel in German home state

Former EU parliament leader, Martin Schulz, says the defeat of his social-democrats in North Rhine-Westphalia is "difficult". The elections showed that a "Schulz effect" does not (yet) exist.

Austria heading for snap elections

Foreign minister Kurz has taken leadership of the conservative party in what could lead to an alliance with the far-right.

News in Brief

  1. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  2. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  3. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  4. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  5. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan
  6. Report: VW threatened with €19.7 billion French fine
  7. Turkey begins mass trial of suspected coup leaders
  8. Merkel's CDU consolidates lead in polls

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms