September 10, 2012
We have today published our thoughts on what the 12 September Dutch elections are likely to mean for the future politics of the eurozone.
Although the EU-critical left-wing Socialist Party has had a strong election campaign, recent polls have seen a shift back towards the centre with the centre-left Social Democrats (PvdA) overtaking the Socialists (SP) to become the main challengers to Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD party (centre-right).
According to the latest Ipsos politieke barometer (8 September) the VVD and PvdA are neck and neck on 35 seats each. The Socialists (21) and Geert Wilders’ PVV (19) are vying for third place, with the Christian democratic CDA (13), left-liberal D66 (11), the Christian Union (CU) (6) and GreenLeft (4) all expected to figure.
Therefore, the most likely outcome remains a centrist, pragmatic coalition, which clearly is the preferred option in Brussels and Berlin. The Dutch elections are therefore unlikely to radically change the immediate political dynamics of the eurozone crisis. The country is likely to continue to oppose more bailout cash for Greece or any topping up of the eurozone’s bailout funds and remain a steadfast supporter of austerity in the struggling eurozone economies.
In the medium to long term, however, the Netherlands could well be on the path to becoming a more assertive – and far more complicated – EU partner. With future decisions on potential eurozone debt pooling to come and the prospect of more EU powers over national budgets (including the Netherlands’), Dutch public opinion and the more or less EU-critical parties such as the Socialists and Geert Wilders’ PVV are likely to shift the country in a more sceptical direction.
The traditional parties of the centre have also increasingly taken on aspects of Wilders’ narrative on Europe. Neither VVD nor the PvdA are uncritically in favour of everything European, with the VVD making several critical interventions: refusing a penny more to Greece, on the need to limit EU powers in some areas and reduce the EU budget. A huge question will be if these two parties will see an electoral advantage in becoming more EU-critical in light of more potential bailouts, a stalling economy and an ever vocal EU-critical fringe.
You can read the whole thing here.