So the Netherlands are getting ready to hold elections. This is post offers a quick description of the competing platforms and, drawing on the most recent voter intention surveys, provides a brief overview of the likely electoral outcomes. Readers should be aware that I am not Dutch, nor can I speak Dutch. Therefore the perspective offered will inevitably be that of an outsider to Netherlands, interested in it as I may be.
Electoral Platforms – Austerity V. Growth
It may sound suspicious and I am aware that I am very biased in favour of this narrative, but it strikes me that this Dutch election is very much being fought along two very contrasting fiscal lines. The Right, headed by VVD‘s Mark Rutte argues in favour of austerity as a way to get rid of the bond vigilantes, avoid high financing costs and facilitate economic growth. The Left, headed by surprise new-comer SP and its leader Emile Roemer, argues for government supported growth to exploit historically low levels of funding in order to support economic growth. Although I am acutely aware of the dangers of capture, I do believe that with the right checks and balances, the SP’s case holds up better. This is a country without government for the last months who is still getting better than Spain with its parliamentary majority.
Voter Intention Surveys
Here are the latest voter intention surveys, kindly provided (and publicly available) by Ipsos-Nederland:
Potential Coalitions Outcomes
The race is apparently tight, with either of an anti austerity left wing Socialist-Labour (SP-PvdA) or a pro-austerity right wing Liberal-Christian Democrat (VVD-CDA) coalition possible. However, while neither has any intention of pulling out of the Euro-Zone, there is a fear that Eurosceptic parties will be able to split voters and create political instability by undermining what is an above average support for the single currency.
Certainly, there seems to be plenty of room to for opportunistic politicians to exploit and polarise Dutch biases and prejudices about the costs of the sovereign debt crisis. Indeed, according to Ipsos – Nederlands (translated via Google Translate),
The consequence might be yet another hung parliament with a government that needs the unreliable fringe support of Gert Wilders again.