Friday, April 16

Mark Rutte, scourge of Spain and Italy, stands as a great favorite to win the elections in the Netherlands


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Three months ago the government of the Dutch liberal Mark Rutte resigned en bloc to avoid a potential vote of no confidence in the scandal of the alleged racial discrimination in the granting of social aid. A case that, by the way, was uncovered by the Spanish lawyer Eva González.

Far from undermining his electoral possibilities, the resignation improved the image of Rutte, who during the pandemic had already reinforced his assessment in part as a guarantor of the freedoms of the Dutch in the management of the coronavirus and a great scourge of the Mediterranean countries in the pandemic negotiations. . Not surprisingly, a video was leaked last April in which Rutte could be seen smiling when an impetuous worker in a garbage processing center asked him, “Please, do not give money to Italians and Spaniards.”

Polls give victory to liberal-conservative VVD, who leads the premier Rutte with a pedaling stroke. He would take 21-26% of the votes, followed by 11-16% of his most immediate persecutor, the PVV, the anti-Muslim party led by Geert Wilders. In this way, the center-right of the VVD expects to win twice as many deputies (around 38 and 40) than the current main opposition party.

Resurrection of the Ultra Wilders

Rutte, who would need to ally with at least three other parties to win the 76 seats that the absolute majority marks, has excluded the PVV from any possibility of agreement, something that its leader Wilders has called an “undemocratic” decision. It should be remembered that Rutte managed to prevail four years ago after campaigning for part of the harsh immigration discourse of his right-wing rivals. Negotiations to form a government in 2017 dragged on for more than half a year.

These elections are also those of the resurrection of Wilders, a veteran leader of the Dutch extreme right, after the surprise suffered in 2019 by the strength of the eccentric populist party Thierry baudet at the head of the Forum for Democracy (FvD), which snatched the victory that same year from Rutte himself the victory in the Senate. Recently created, its brilliant rise and abrupt fall in a few months are a complete case study. The one who was the new ‘enfant terrible’ of the Europhobic and populist right has come to lead the self-destructive way of the cross of its formation in the face of accusations of racism and anti-Semitism, as well as its Trumpian and conspiracy drift.

The left, in free fall

The Dutch left is in worse shape and not only because of the fragmentation of its vote. Despite the surprise victory of the Dutch Social Democrats in the 2019 European elections, thanks to the pull of the then serious candidate to preside over the European Commission (current vice-president and strong man of the European Green Pact), Frans Timmermans (Labor Party, Pvda), the truth is that the Dutch left hardly raises its head. The most recent polls (Peilingwijzer) give no more than 25 percent to all progressive formations combined.

Rutte, before a television debate
Rutte, before a television debate – AFP

The progressive and liberal flag is now being hoisted by the coalition of the premier’s party with the socioliberal Democrats 66. As the Dutch analyst recalls Cas mudde In a post from the London School of Economics, in 2006 the Labor Party (Pvda), the Socialist Party (SP) and the Green Left accounted for more than 42% of the total vote.

With the participation of the elderly and vulnerable population, the Netherlands began yesterday, Monday, the first of the three days of legislative elections. Without the possibility of large face-to-face public events, the election campaign was based on televised debates in which Rutte maintained his image as a firm hand in crisis management.

Curfew riots

The covid has been a dominant issue in the electoral campaign, in which the opposition has criticized the management of the Rutte government, which went from promoting the herd immunity theory (à la Boris Johnson) and having actively and passively promised “not to restrict the freedoms of the Dutch”, to maintain today – due to the threat of the British variant of the virus – a confinement that has lasted since the beginning of the year and the first curfew since the end of the Second World War. The entry into force of these restrictive measures has generated one of the largest waves of protests and riots. Last Sunday in The Hague, the police dispersed the protesters with water cannons.

Even so, and as has happened with other leaders, overexposure from the pandemic has favored Rutte’s assessment. New cases of coronavirus in the Netherlands last weekend reached their highest level since mid-January, with more than 6,396 cases in 24 hours. The country has registered a total of 1,151,218 cases and 16,046 deaths from coronavirus.

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