Tuesday 25 January 2022

European elections: what the Dutch papers say

The Netherlands voted for its 26 new MEPs last week but did not find out the results until Sunday evening. The Dutch papers note that euro-scepticism is on the rise everywhere, despite the losses for the PVV.

Voters have rejected Wilders’ radicalism but to conclude they ‘voted for Europe’, as D66’s Alexander Pechtold had it, has to be an exaggeration, writes the Volkskrant in its editorial.

The Dutch don’t want to get rid of the euro, nor do they want to leave the EU, the paper writes. But the fact that so few people bothered to vote means the European Parliament still ‘lacks authority’. The paper doubts whether the Dutch delegation, spread out over ten parties will do anything to change that.

Elsevier

How far will European integration go after these elections?, news magazine Elsevier wonders.

‘Most people in the Netherlands – including the highly educated – haven’t a clue about the European Union in spite of five years of European crisis when we found out that we are truly in the same boat’, writes the magazine’s Brussels correspondent Carla Joosten.

‘Dutch politicians have shown themselves to be incapable of integrating European politics into national politics,’ she writes. Instead they came up with opportunistic election campaigns and empty ‘bleating’ about job creation, another issue on which European politicians are ‘totally incompetent’.

Conservatives

Meanwhile, victorious Euro MPs will be returning to Brussels to advocate the right to abortion and gay rights in the whole union, she writes.

This, Joosten says, is  ‘dangerous’, because of the risk that conservative countries will ‘drag us back in time if a majority of them feel those crazy Dutch and their progressive ideas are going too far.’

The NRC also deflates Pechtold’s ‘vote for Europe’. The Dutch didn’t vote at all, the NRC writes.

Local politics

Why not? the paper asked. ‘Anti-European feeling isn’t the whole story,’ the NRC quotes political commentator Caroline de Gruyter as saying. ‘Politics happens locally. The Netherlands has 26 Euro MPs and 150 members of parliament.’

‘A Euro MP represents 645,000 citizens and an MP 112,000. The Euro MP is in Brussels or Strasbourg, is less approachable and is involved with spending which represents a fraction of the national budget,’ she writes.

According to economist Ben Burger voters stayed at home deliberately, not to show they are against Europe but because not voting was the only way of making clear that they are not satisfied with the way things are going.

‘Voting would legitimise what is happening. If lots of people had voted, government leaders would meet in Brussels and say to each other: we can continue as before,’ he told the NRC.

Voting is useless

The NRC also quotes journalist and non-EP voter Paul Witteman, who said candidates for the European parliament had admitted to him, ‘freely and off the record’ that ‘voting is useless’.

‘It only helps second-rate politicians to a job in which they earn a nice salary for four years without having to account for their actions,’ he said.

Read the NRC column in English: has Wilders lost his mojo?

 

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