Dilemma for Dutch Social Democrats After Historic Defeat

Dutch Labor Party leader Lodewijk Asscher makes a speech in The Hague, October 31, 2016
Dutch Labor Party leader Lodewijk Asscher makes a speech in The Hague, October 31, 2016 (SWZ)

Open Europe’s Vincenzo Scarpetta‏ has called it the PASOK-ization of the Dutch Labor Party. In an historic defeat on Wednesday, the social democrats went down from 25 to 6 percent support, reducing them from the second to the seventh largest party in parliament.

The Greens and far-left Socialists, long Labor’s smaller siblings on the left, did better, winning 9 percent support each.

The result was not unexpected. Labor’s popularity fell when it formed a coalition government with the right in 2012 and never recovered.

The choice it now faces is the same for social democrats elsewhere: either attempt to lure back traditional working-class and migrant voters with an economically more populist program or double down on center-left politics that appeal to the socially progressive middle class. Read more

Election Reveals Educational Divide in Netherlands

Sophie in 't Veld, a Dutch liberal Democrat member of the European Parliament, gives a speech at Utrecht University, August 12, 2011
Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch liberal Democrat member of the European Parliament, gives a speech at Utrecht University, August 12, 2011 (Sebastiaan ter Burg)

Liberal Democrat and Green party voters in the Netherlands are more educated than supporters of the nationalist Freedom Party and far-left Socialists.

An Ipsos exit poll found that 58 and 55 percent of liberal Democrats and Greens, respectively, have graduated from college. Only 15 and 18 percent of Freedom and Socialist Party voters have. Read more

What Happens Next in the Netherlands?

Aerial view of Dutch government offices and parliament buildings in The Hague
Aerial view of Dutch government offices and parliament buildings in The Hague (Tweede Kamer)

As expected, no single party won a majority of the votes in the Netherlands on Wednesday. Parties must now form a coalition in parliament in order to govern. Read more

Center-Right Parties Expected to Form Government in Netherlands

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte joins a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, January 20, 2016
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte joins a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, January 20, 2016 (European Parliament)

Center-right parties are expected to dominate the next coalition government in the Netherlands.

If the exit poll released on Wednesday night turns out to be correct, the ruling liberal party of Mark Rutte would come close to finding a majority in the next parliament with the likeminded liberal Democrats and Christian Democrats. Read more

Dutch Mainstream Defeats Populist Geert Wilders

Dutch party leaders Geert Wilders and Mark Rutte
Dutch party leaders Geert Wilders and Mark Rutte (European Parliament/European Council)
  • Prime Minister Mark Rutte won the parliamentary elections in the Netherlands on Wednesday. Preliminary results put his liberal party in the lead to form the next government.
  • The Christian Democrats, liberal Democrats and nationalist Freedom Party would share second place.
  • The Greens have overtaken Labor as the largest party on the left.
  • Given that all major parties have ruled out a pact with the Freedom Party, a coalition of four or five parties close to the center is expected to come to power. Read more

Optimist Rutte Asks Dutch to Reject Rival’s Pessimism

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is photographed in his residence in The Hague, September 19, 2011
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is photographed in his residence in The Hague, September 19, 2011 (Rijksoverheid)

International coverage of Mark Rutte’s reelection campaign in the Netherlands has largely emphasized the ways in which he emulates Geert Wilders.

This report from The New York Times is a typical example. It claims the liberal premier has taken a “Trump-like turn” in the face of a “hard-right challenge”, siding with the “silent majority” in his country against non-natives.

It’s a little over the top but not altogether wrong. Rutte’s center-right party has adopted more repressive immigration and integration policies. It has also become more Euroskeptic since Wilders started out a decade ago.

But it’s not the whole story. Read more

Four Parties Vie for First Place in Dutch Election

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte meets with other European leaders in Brussels, March 16, 2016
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte meets with other European leaders in Brussels, March 16, 2016 (European Council)

Four parties are vying to become the single largest in the Netherlands’ election on Wednesday.

The latest average of polls puts Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberals in first place with 16 to 18 percent support.

But the Christian Democrats, liberal Democrats and nationalist Freedom Party are not far behind. Each would get between 12 and 14 percent. Read more