Horse-Trading Could Change Balance of Power in Dutch Senate

Dutch senators debate legislation in The Hague
Dutch senators debate legislation in The Hague (ANP)

A week ago, it looked like the ruling parties in the Netherlands had managed to contain their losses in midterm elections.

Although three of the four parties that share power lost support, and the far right posted its best result to date, the government was not expected to become completely dependent on any one opposition party in the Senate.

Now it might after all. Read more

Far Right Fills Gaps Left by Merkel and Rutte

German chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands in Kleve, near the Dutch-German border, May 23, 2013
German chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands in Kleve, near the Dutch-German border, May 23, 2013 (Bundesregierung)

Mark Rutte has suffered the same fate as his closest ally in Europe, Angela Merkel. Both center-right leaders moved to the middle in a bid for centrist voters only to leave a gap on the right that the far right has filled.

In midterm elections on Wednesday, the Dutch Freedom Party and Forum for Democracy won a combined 21 percent of the votes, their best result to date.

In Germany, support for the Alternative is down a few points in the polls but still at 11-14 percent. Merkel’s Christian Democrats fell from 41.5 to 33 percent between the 2013 and 2017 elections. Read more

Rutte Loses Senate Majority, Gains for Dutch Far Right

Dutch government buildings in The Hague
Dutch government buildings in The Hague (Shutterstock/Michael Regeer)
  • Dutch voters elected provincial deputies on Wednesday, who will elect a new Senate in May.
  • The four parties in Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s ruling coalition are projected to lose their majority in the upper chamber.
  • Far-right partied posted their best result to date, taking 21 percent of the votes. Read more

Rutte Claims Center in Dutch Midterm Elections

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)

Two years ago, the Netherlands’ center-right prime minister, Mark Rutte, defeated the far right by adopting some of its policies on immigration while rejecting its divisive rhetoric.

In the run-up to this year’s provincial and Senate elections, he is claiming the center ground instead. Read more

Small EU Countries Resist Franco-German Push for Protectionism

French president Emmanuel Macron speaks with Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte during a European Council meeting in Brussels, June 24, 2018
French president Emmanuel Macron speaks with Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte during a European Council meeting in Brussels, June 24, 2018 (Elysée)

Since the European Commission blocked a landmark merger of the French and German train manufacturers Alstom and Siemens, France and Germany have come out in favor of a “genuine European industrial policy” to compete with China and the United States.

Smaller countries, led by the Netherlands and Poland, are wary. Read more

Dutch Ruling Parties Likely to Lose Upper House Majority

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)

The ruling parties in the Netherlands are down in the polls and likely to lose their majority in provincial and Senate elections next month.

According to a poll of polls published by the national broadcaster NOS, three of the four coalition parties would lose seats. Only the small Christian Union has gained popularity since the last election, in 2017.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right liberals remain the largest party in the polls. The Greens and far-right Freedom Party compete for second place. Forum for Democracy, another far-right party, is up as well.

Another poll has found that only a third of voters want Rutte’s four-party government to continue.

The NOS cautions that next month’s elections could pan out differently. Far-right voters are less likely to turn out in regional elections. The middle-of-the-road Christian Democrats, who are currently in government, usually overperform. Read more

Don’t Fear Dutchification

Dutch government buildings in The Hague, March 29, 2015
Dutch government buildings in The Hague, March 29, 2015 (Pixabay/Unsplash)

The Financial Times argues that the big political story in Europe is not so much the rise of populism as the fragmentation of electorates and the parties that represent them.

  • In Spain, once-dominant conservative and socialist parties must compete with liberals, nationalists and the far left.
  • Neither the center-left nor the center-right bloc has a majority in the Swedish parliament anymore and neither is willing to allow the far-right Sweden Democrats to become kingmakers.
  • The far-right Alternative and the left-leaning Greens have eaten into support for the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats in Germany.
  • In what the Financial Times describes as “the most extreme example of such fragmentation,” the Netherlands, it now takes four parties to form a government.

This isn’t wrong per se, but I would like to offer two nuances. Read more