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

Rutte Cautions Against Populist “Experiment” in Netherlands

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte arrives for a meeting with other European leaders in Brussels, February 12, 2015
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte arrives for a meeting with other European leaders in Brussels, February 12, 2015 (European Council)

Two days before parliamentary elections, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has reiterated his opposition to a pact with the nationalist Freedom Party, telling Geert Wilders in person that the two will “never” work together again.

Earlier on Monday, Rutte urged voters not to let the Netherlands become the “third domino” that falls to populism after Britain voted to leave the European Union and America elected Donald Trump.

“This is not the time to experiment,” he told reporters in Rotterdam. Read more

Rutte Wins If Dutch Vote with Their Pocketbooks

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

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal party would benefit from switching the election debate in the Netherlands to the economy, on which it is trusted the most.

Cultural and social issues, like immigration, pensions and security, currently play a major role. Read more

New York Times Gets Rutte’s Aggressive Liberalism Wrong

Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands answers questions from reporters in The Hague, March 18, 2011
Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands answers questions from reporters in The Hague, March 18, 2011 (Rijksoverheid)

The New York Times reports that Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has taken a “Trump-like turn” in the face of a “hard-right challenge”, siding with the “silent majority” in its prejudices against immigrants.

That gets it quite wrong. Read more

Rutte Rules Out Pact with Dutch Freedom Party

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte answers questions from reporters in Brussels, July 12, 2015
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte answers questions from reporters in Brussels, July 12, 2015 (The Council of the European Union)

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has ruled out forming a coalition government with the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders.

Rutte, who leads the Netherlands’ ruling liberal party, said in an interview on Sunday that there was “zero chance” of him doing a deal with Wilders after the election in March. Read more

Wilders’ Negativity an Opportunity for Optimist Rutte

Dutch liberal party leader Mark Rutte arrives at the prime minister's office in The Hague, October 14, 2010
Dutch liberal party leader Mark Rutte arrives at the prime minister’s office in The Hague, October 14, 2010 (Rijksoverheid)

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders may have just dictated the terms on which the Dutch election next year will be fought — and under which his rival, the incumbent prime minister Mark Rutte, is more likely to be prevail.

I wrote earlier this year that echoes of America’s presidential election could be heard in the Netherlands: Wilders shares an under-siege rhetoric and unceremonious style of politics with Donald Trump; Rutte, like Hillary Clinton, celebrates the country the Netherlands is, rather than it used to be, and represents consensus and a respect for political norms.

Those differences were driven home last week, when Wilders was found guilty of inciting discrimination by a panel of three judges for promising “fewer Moroccans” in the city of The Hague. Read more

Rutte In Bind as Parties Balk at Endorsing Treaty Fudge

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

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte failed to convince other parties on Friday to support his attempts to amend the Netherlands’ ratification of a European association agreement with Ukraine, despite warning that withdrawing from the accord could trigger instability on Europe’s eastern border.

“This is bigger than the Netherlands alone,” Rutte said at a news conference.

The leaders of the Christian Democrats, liberal Democrats and Green Party were not impressed. Read more