These elections were always going to be seen as the first real test of Dutch public opinion on the Netherlands’ future relationship with Europe. It has been a long and strong bond, cemented by the country’s strong reliance on the European export market. But the eurozone financial crisis has brought the reciprocity of this union under intense scrutiny. Many voters are frustrated by what they see as the flow of “blank cheques” being signed off by their leaders and sent to bailout-struggling economies abroad, while austerity is making life harder at home.
Mainstream pro-European parties look set to dominate the Dutch parliamentary election on Wednesday, dispelling concerns that radical eurosceptics might gain sway in a core eurozone country and push to quit the European Union or flout its budget rules. But the Netherlands is likely to remain an awkward, tough-talking member of the single currency area, strongly resisting transfers to eurozone debtors, regardless of whether prime minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals or the centre-left Labour party of Diederik Samsom win the most seats. Opinion polls on Tuesday showed the Liberals and Labour on 36 seats each or the Liberals fractionally in front, with the hard-left Socialists and the far-right anti-immigration Freedom party fading in third and fourth place respectively. That makes it more likely, though not certain, that Rutte, with the strongest international profile, will stay as prime minister.
Dutch voters will head to the polls on Wednesday, Sept. 12. Polls open at 0530 GMT and close at 1900 GMT. Vote counting starts immediately after the polls close and the first — unofficial — results will be published by public broadcaster NOS just after 1900 GMT. The process normally goes on until the early hours of the following morning. Final official results will be published Monday, Sept. 17 by the national election council. The outcome of the elections may influence Europe’s austerity-focused approach to dealing with its debt crisis. The German-led austerity drive has been strongly supported by the outgoing government of Liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte. But a large number of Dutch voters are frustrated with belt-tightening and have become increasingly wary of bailing out southern European governments. “The Dutch elections might shift the balance of power in Europe towards less austerity and reduced support for further bailouts,” according to ING.
Few nations beat the Dutch for practicality. Befuddled voters, who have 20 or so parties to choose from in the general election on September 12th, can save hours of poring over manifestos by submitting to the StemWijzer. This government-backed website presents 30 pithy statements (“All [drug-selling] ‘coffee-shops’ in the Netherlands should be closed down”; “European supervision of banks should be implemented”), and matches voters to the party that best fits their views. Separately, the Central Planning Bureau also runs the main parties’ programmes through an economic model, to compare how each will affect things like jobs, output and, miraculously, queues on motorways. Despite these aids, the Dutch are disenchanted with politics. At J.H. Van Dijk’s cheese stall in Amsterdam’s main street market customers are fed up with all those politicians and their confusing parties. Further into town, at the Independent Outlet music store (where “corporate rock still sucks”), a young man behind the counter complains how “politicians always let you down”. A hairdresser in The Hague, who in her time has shorn plenty of MPs, cannot make up her mind. The StemWijzer is all very well, she says, but politicians “don’t do what the people vote for.”
Rupture or continuity? The Dutch go to the polls on Sept. 12 for early elections marked by the crisis. Liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte seems well ahead, but on the left there’s tough competition to come up with an alternative. For the Dutch press this close vote risks prolonging the political crisis. The general election campaign of 12 September is still coming up with surprises. According to a survey published on September 3, the VVD party of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte (Liberal) is still in the lead, expected to pick up 35 of the 150 seats in the National Assembly. Its main rival, though, seems to be not the rising star of the Socialist Party led by Emile Roemer (radical left), which had set the tone of the debate over the summer, but the Labour Party (PvdA) under Diederik Samsom.
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). 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.
François Hollande’s victory in the French presidential polls this year showed how a single national election can change Europe’s political equilibrium. Now the forthcoming Dutch election is being shaken up by the eurozone’s attempts to end its crisis and threatening in return to cause complications for Europe.
The election itself is a result of the Dutch government being a casualty of the eurozone crisis. Long a hawkish supporter of deficit cuts in the currency union’s periphery, the Netherlands was forced to take its own medicine when it went into recession last year and was set to miss fiscal targets agreed with the EU. An austerity package, designed by the coalition between prime minister Mark Rutte’s centre-right Liberal party and the Christian Democrats, led Geert Wilders’ populist Freedom party to withdraw parliamentary support and bring the government down. Both right and left are now riven by disagreements over how to handle the eurozone debt crisis. On the right, Mr Wilders has burnt his bridges and can only play the role of obstructionist. On the left, the Socialist party has outflanked the Labour party with strident criticism of both domestic austerity and the Fiscal Compact – the disciplining treaty demanded by German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Netherlands: Top candidate in Dutch national elections: ignore Europe’s 3 percent deficit limit in 2013 | The Washington Post
One of the leading candidates in the upcoming Dutch national elections said he would not feel bound by Europe’s rule to keep budget deficits within a certain limit if elected prime minister. The remarks were made by Emile Roemer, the leader of the Socialist Party, which is neck-and-neck with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative party in early polls ahead of September 12 elections. In an interview with Het Financieele Dagblad, published Thursday, Roemer said it was “idiocy” to fixate on meeting the rule in 2013. The rule requiring governments to keep budget deficits below 3 percent of GDP has often been flouted since the euro was introduced in 1999. Roemer reportedly said he would pay a fine from Brussels “over my dead body” and noted that the Dutch are one of the largest contributors to the European Union budget in terms of its population. Roemer’s remarks could not immediately be confirmed with his campaign office, but they are in line with the his party’s stance throughout European sovereign debt crisis.
The ruling Dutch minority government is on the brink of collapse after anti-EU lawmaker Geert Wilders torpedoed seven weeks of austerity talks, saying he would not cave in to budget demands from ‘dictators in Brussels’. New national elections that will be a referendum on the Netherlands’ relationship with Europe and its ailing single currency are now all but certain. But before Prime Minister Mark Rutte can tender his resignation – possibly as early as Monday – he must consult with allies and opposition parties on how to run a caretaker government that will have to make important economic decisions in the coming weeks and months. ‘Elections are the logical next step,’ Rutte said.