Dutch concerns about the euro crisis are dominating the election campaign and have led to a sharp increase in socialist popularity in recent polls. Should the German Chancellor Angela Merkel be worried? The warm summer weather has returned to the small Dutch town of Boxmeer. An ice cream shop on Steen Street provides locals with place to cool off. The leading candidate for the Socialist Party (SP), Emile Roemer, vigorously scoops the ice cream and doles out a red clump of ice cream into a cone. In the background, the bells of the chapel drone, while dozens of photographers and cameramen snap photos and film the event. The Socialist Party leader laughs at the disfigured result of his efforts. But that’s no problem for Roemer. It’s the thought that counts. The powerful politician is offering a special sweet locals will probably have a hard time getting again: tomato ice-cream. The tomato is the symbol of the socialist political party. Back in the day, in the much wilder years, Dutch Socialists enjoyed pelting their political opponents with juicy, red tomatoes.
Since then, the SP has outgrown its”Sturm and Drang” years. In his serious, dark suit and red mute tie, the Socialist could pass as one of the party’s class enemies. The party’s aim for the election is to get out of the opposition, and the former revolutionaries want to govern and their chances of winning the parliamentary election on September 12 don’t look all that bad. More and more people continue to gather around the red-and-white ice-cream stand, which the Socialist Party built for campaign.
As people congregate around the ice cream stand, the politician enjoys his home field advantage in Boxmeer, it’s where Roemer once worked as both a school teacher and deputy mayor. He’s quick to get to his main argument of the EU’s fiscal policy. “Europe shouldn’t just rely on what Brussels says,” the 50-year told the crowd. “Too many politicians only think in terms of laws and debt levels.”