Veritas – Dutch elections point to pragmatic European vision

The gains by Mark Rutte’s right of centre VVD party, chiefly at the expense of the anti-immigration and anti-EU PVV led by Geert Wilders, along with no gains predicted for the Socialist Party, suggest the Dutch people are looking for a pragmatic Europe going forward.

This in turn may lend some support to the ideas put forward by EC president Manuel Barroso in his State of Union speech yesterday. And the reason for that lies in how the next coalition is formed.

The VVD and the PvdA (Labour) are expected to form the core of a new coalition government. Together they won over 50% of the popular vote, and should get 80 out of the 150 seats in the parliament. That alone points to more support for solving Europe’s problems through EU institutions and reforms of the EU, rather than pulling away from the EU altogether.

Dutch News cited RTL commentators suggested that a coalition could be formed with the support of other centrist parties D66 and the Christian Democrats.

D66 is part of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament, which supported the Lisbon Treaty. This amended both the Maastricht Treaty and Treaty of Rome. With such a track record from D66 and its pan-European partners, it suggests that the price of joining the new coalition may be coalition support or at least not a blanket rejection of the idea of closer union in the EU through a federal structure requiring amendments to Lisbon.

The Christian Democrats (CDA) would be picked because it was in Rutte’s previous coalition, but its views on Europe may hold less sway as it looks to have lost further ground both in terms of the popular vote and seats in the new parliament.

One issue that both the Dutch government and European institutions such as the Parliament and Commission will be aware of is the low turnout. At just under 74%, it was the lowest in 14 years for a Dutch general election. Barroso and other politicians will be only too acutely aware of the issue of a democratic deficit currently in place via the measures taken in reaction to Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. He specifically mentioned “democracy” linked to his view of a move to a more federal EU structure.

This takes place in the context of ongoing talks in Italy over whether to extend Mario Monti’s technocratic rule, while Spain continues to baulk at the idea of seeking European rescue funds, precisely because of fears over the loss of democratic sovereignty. The German government yesterday got clearance from the guardians of the German constitution to offer the money, but it is yet to be taken up. That too is set to be a core issue tackled by any new coalition in the Netherlands, which so far has retained its own top notch sovereing credit rating.

Full results of the Dutch elections can be viewed on an interactive map here:


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