Tuesday, 18. September 2012

BM Insights - Dutch general election

Dutch Voters send mixed messages: stay on course, and change the direction.

The right-wing Liberals of Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Diederik Samsom’s Labour Party made strong gains in the Dutch general election on 12 September. This is the first time since 1994 that just two parties - in this case the Liberals (VVD) and Labour (PvdA) - are able to form a majority in the Lower House.

It now seems likely that these two parties, from opposite ends of the political spectrum, will come together to form a coalition, with negotiations already underway.

The outcome shows that the anti-Europe message of the far-left and farright parties did not get much traction with voters. The fall in support for Geert Wilders’ far-right PVV is a clear signal that the Dutch do not want to turn their backs on Europe.

Although Dutch people remain generally critical of the Greek bailout packages and financial troubles in Southern Europe, they supported parties that have broadly pro-Europe standpoints.

Business groups VNO-NCW, MKB-Nederland and LTO Nederland, which represent businesses and employers in the Netherlands, stated their satisfaction with the outcome of the elections, highlighting that “the Netherlands has chosen the centre” and that “populism is finally in decline”. Business groups also highlight the need for an ambitious and innovation-based growth agenda that focuses on the key strength of the Netherlands as well as a strong and professional export strategy to conquer Dutch market share in growth markets.

The polling data showed that voters are hostile to greater European integration that could entail the transfer of more Dutch powers to EU institutions - including the mutualisation of debt.

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