The forthcoming election campaign will be about Europe and the euro, PVV leader Geert Wilders said at the weekend, following his decision to pull out of austerity talks to reduce the budget deficit below the eurozone 3% limit.
The PVV is ‘against Europe, against the 3% and against the euro,’ Wilders told reporters following the collapse of the negotiations on Saturday. Although an election has not yet been called, a national vote is widely expected to take place in the autumn.
After seven weeks of negotiations, Wilders now has his hands free to do what he wants – carry out an election campaign, the Volkskrant said in an analysis. ‘Wilders is paying a high price for his freedom. He is now completely alone in parliament,’ the paper pointed out.
Commentators say Wilders must realise he will not be part of any future coalition government, even with the VVD. In particular, they point at the sharp language used by the prime minister when he put the blame for the collapse of the talks firmly on the PVV leader’s shoulders.
Sybrand Haersma Buma, who was involved with the negotiations on behalf of the CDA, said no-one had seen Wilders’ change of heart coming. ‘It was as if someone was playing a board game, realised they were losing, and chucked it over,’ Haersma Buma said.
Wilders meanwhile, on Sunday denied claims that he had accepted the austerity package but had been forced to change his mind by some of his MPs. ‘Rubbish,’ Wilders said, using the microblogging service Twitter. ‘The PVV is united against the dictates of Brussels and attacks on our elderly.’
Attacked later on Sunday evening by Dutch European Commissioner Neelie Kroes for misrepresenting the facts about Europe, Wilders told news agency ANP the ‘entire package’ of cuts and tax increases was unacceptable.
The European ‘strangulation limit’ of 3% would cost economic growth, increase unemployment and cut spending power, particularly for pensioners, he said. ‘We are not going to let our old folks pay the bill for Greek fraudsters,’ he was quoted as saying.
An opinion poll by Maurice de Hond shortly after the collapse of the austerity talks showed little change in party support compared with last week’s poll.
The PVV was down one on 19 and five below its general election total. Support for the PVV has been declining in recent months and is now around 20% below its June 2010 general election total.
The De Hond poll put the VVD on 33 seats (up two on 2010) and the Socialists on 30 (up 15). Labour is in third place in the De Hond poll, still down six on its general election total.
However, commentators say it will be several days before an accurate poll can be taken, given the events of the weekend still have to sink in.
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What had been agreed? State pension at 66 in 2015, VAT at 21%
Austerity talks collapse as Wilders walks out, election likely