EU Breathes Easier After Dutch VoteMarch 20, 2017 in European Union
Late on Wednesday 15 March, Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated that Dutch people rejected the wrong kind of populism, as he celebrated victory in the election.
The Prime Ministers centre-right VVD party lead positioned him for a third successive term as prime minister and easily beat the anti-immigration Freedom party of Geert Wilders. With all but two vote counts complete, the prime ministers party won 33 out of 150 seats a loss of eight seats from the previous parliament. The Freedom party came in second place with 20 seats, a gain of fiv, while the Christian Democrats (CDA) and the liberal D66 party, tied for third with 19 seats each. The Green-left party gained 14 seats, an increase of 10. The Labour Party (PvdA), which is the junior party in the governing coalition, suffered a historic defeat by winning only nine seats a loss of 29. Labours defeat appeared to signal that voters were shifting to the right, as many of the seats it lost did not go to other left-wing parties. Voter turnout was 80.2% – the highest for thirty years, with analysts saying that this may have benefited pro-EU and liberal parties.
The Dutch race was seen as a test of support for nationalist parties that have been gaining ground across Europe. Mr Wilders however has insisted that the patriotic spring would still happen.
Fellow eurozone countries France and Germany also face elections this year. France will hold its first round of voting in its presidential election on 23 April, with the second round being held on 7 May. The far right National Front is forecast to increase its vote dramatically. Meanwhile, Germany will hold its general election in September, where the popularist Alternative for German (AfD) may win seats in parliament for the first time. Mr Rutte had already spoken of the election as a quarter-final against populism, ahead of the French and German polls, and his victory was warmly greeted by other European leaders and politicians. French President Francois Holland stated that Mr Rutte had won a clear victory against extremism, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed a very pro-European result, a clear signaland a good day for democracy. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy praised Dutch voters for their responsibility, while Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament until earlier this year, stated that he was relieved that the Freedom Party had lost, adding we must continue to fight for an open and free Europe.