The Pro-Europe Faction Wins the Dutch Vote
In Wednesday, September 12th, Dutch voters were given a chance to decide the country’s destiny. Many feel that they were deciding not only the fate of the Netherlands, but Europe as a whole.
Major contenders in the election included the VVD Party, which is pro-free market and European Union; the center-left Labor Party led by Diederik Samsom; the Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders, known for its anti-Islam, anti- immigration and isolationist views; and several other minor parties.
The liberal VVD Party with current Prime Minister Mark Rutte won the election with Labor a close second. Observers say it’s a win not only for the Netherlands but the European Union as a whole.
Why the Dutch Vote Matters
The Dutch vote has always indicated the prevailing attitudes of all of Europe. According to political analyst Piotr Maciej Kaczynski of the Center for European Policy Studies, ‘Every Dutch election has been at the forefront of what is the mood everywhere in Europe.’ What this vote says is that voters still prefer European integration to isolation.
The Netherlands was a founding member of the European Union. It has traditionally always supported the integration of Europe and since World War II has been involved in forging international treaties. But in the last few years, the tide of European opinion has seemed to be changing. This was reflected in the Netherlands by several actions, including its rejection of the proposed European
constitution, which it effectively struck down.
Many observers have said that its attitude toward the EU has grown more skeptical over time. As the EU has grown, this has diluted Dutch power. Like many countries in Europe, there has been a growing populist and nationalist movement which seeks to separate from the EU.
The Right Wing
A few days after the election, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement, ‘The election outcome strengthens Europe and weakens the populists and nationalists.’
Right wing politician Geert Wilders became a popular figure through is anti-Islam rhetoric which resonated with many conservative Europeans. He voiced their discontent with the current situation in Europe and he seeks to pull the
Netherlands out of the European Union.
However, the Dutch election shows that the tide has not turned in Europe. It also shows how voters in one country can change the fate of a continent.