Analysis

Dutch Unease: the significance of this week’s Dutch election

9 Sep 2012
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Region: 
EU/Eurozone

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  • The Netherlands will go to the polls this week to elect a new government. In the context of the Eurozone crisis this election looks set to be an important one for a number of reasons that extend far beyond the actual result.
  • The most likely result of the election is a rough three-way split between the Liberals, the Labour party and an insurgent Socialist party that has at some points in the last three months polled as much as a third of the electorate. A prolonged negotiation on a coalition will have implications both in the Netherlands and across the Eurozone.
  • The rise of the Socialist party is the most marked version of a trend that now has serious variants across Europe – a trend of anti-establishment political insurgencies against incumbent mainstream political parties. This is happening both on the left and on the right. Both are characterised by a strong variant of Euroscepticism defined not by opposition to the European Union itself but by the Union’s perceived political and economic evolution.
  • What these newly buoyant parties of both left and right share is key and may have long-term consequences for European politics. Most have risen since 2010 on explicit resistance to the political consensus around austerity in Berlin and Brussels and the kinds of institutional change proposed for the Eurozone and wider EU. They are exerting identifiable pressure on the traditional centre ground that is likely to reshape it in important ways.

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