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.
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.
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.
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.
Tom-Jan Meeus has a good piece in Politico about the state of Dutch politics five months out from the next election.
Meeus, who is a political columnist and former United States correspondent for NRC Handelsblad, argues that there is a American influence on this election: Should Donald Trump win in November, Meeus expects his Dutch counterpart, Geert Wilders, will shift further to the right. Mark Rutte, the incumbent center-right prime minister, could benefit if Hillary Clinton prevails.
Mark Rutte is favored by the Netherlands’ ruling liberals to lead their party into the next election, due in early 2017.
Rutte has been party leader since 2006 and prime minister since 2010. His popularity has gone down since he made a pact the left-wing Labor Party in 2012, but the right-wing liberals could still win the most seats in the next election.
European countries have “eight to six weeks” to save the Schengen system of border-free travel, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte warned at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday.
Once spring sets in, refugee flows from the Middle East are likely to increase. Already, numbers are higher this month than they were in January of last year and 2015 saw the highest number of people traveling into the European Union since the bloc removed its internal border controls.
“We cannot cope with the numbers any longer,” Rutte said.
Various Western European leaders have warned that an uncontrollable influx of asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa threatens to undermine the bloc’s open borders.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte told reporters on Thursday that the European Union could go the way of the Roman Empire if it didn’t take action. “Big empires go down if the borders are not well-protected,” he said.
The Netherlands will take over the bloc’s rotating presidency in January.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, has similarly warned that the continent’s free-travel area, known as Schengen, is at risk. “We have to safeguard the spirit behind Schengen,” he told the European Parliament on Wednesday.
Juncker predicted that the demise of Schengen would herald the collapse of the euro as well. “A single currency does not exist if Schengen fails,” he said. “It is one of the pillars of the construction of Europe.”