Optimist Rutte Asks Dutch to Reject Rival’s Pessimism

Mark Rutte Manuel Valls Alexis Tsipras
Mark Rutte, Manuel Valls and Alexis Tsipras, the prime ministers of the Netherlands, France and Greece, meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 21, 2016 (WEF/Valeriano Di Domenico)

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 “Optimist Rutte Asks Dutch to Reject Rival’s Pessimism”

Rutte Cautions Against Populist “Experiment” in Netherlands

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte arrives in Brussels for a meeting with other European leaders, February 12, 2015
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte arrives in Brussels for a meeting with other European leaders, 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 Cautions Against Populist “Experiment” in Netherlands”

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 “Rutte Wins If Dutch Vote with Their Pocketbooks”

New York Times Gets Rutte’s Aggressive Liberalism Wrong

Mark Rutte
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte answers questions in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, July 5, 2016 (European Parliament)

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 “New York Times Gets Rutte’s Aggressive Liberalism Wrong”

Rutte Rules Out Pact with Dutch Freedom Party

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

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 “Rutte Rules Out Pact with Dutch Freedom Party”

Wilders’ Negativity an Opportunity for Optimist Rutte

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

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 “Wilders’ Negativity an Opportunity for Optimist Rutte”

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 “Rutte In Bind as Parties Balk at Endorsing Treaty Fudge”

Echoes of Clinton-Trump Contest in the Netherlands

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte answers questions in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, July 5
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte answers questions in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, July 5 (European Parliament)

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.

This probably oversells the effect of America’s elections on the Netherlands’, but Meeuw is onto something. Read more “Echoes of Clinton-Trump Contest in the Netherlands”

Rutte Favored to Lead Party into Next Election

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

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.

Rutte hasn’t announced his intentions yet, but his two likeliest successors recently signaled they would not challenge him for a third term. Read more “Rutte Favored to Lead Party into Next Election”

Weeks Left to Save Schengen, Dutch Premier Warns

Mark Rutte, Manuel Valls and Alexis Tsipras, the prime ministers of the Netherlands, France and Greece, meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 21
Mark Rutte, Manuel Valls and Alexis Tsipras, the prime ministers of the Netherlands, France and Greece, meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 21 (WEF/Valeriano Di Domenico)

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.

He called for a strengthening of the European external frontier and rapid agreement on sharing immigrants around the EU. Read more “Weeks Left to Save Schengen, Dutch Premier Warns”