Dutch general election: a fourth term for Rutte?
Voting for a new parliament began on Monday in the Netherlands. Despite declining approval ratings, Prime Minister Mark Rutte's conservative-liberal VVD has a clear lead in the polls. If it wins, Rutte could be set for a fourth term as head of government. While this earns him recognition from some observers, others are less convinced that his staying in office is a good thing.
This could be a Phyrric victory
Rutte will have to make even more compromises if he wants to win again, warns NRC Handelsblad:
“Who wants to govern with a party that is by far the largest and considers its prime minister indispensable? The price will be high, anger with the prime minister and his wishy-washy policies will increase. ... Rutte always operated as a pragmatist with a primarily neoliberal agenda, which he himself embodied with his credo of personal responsibility and individualisation. ... Now his party programme partly throws this overboard - the state must suddenly cast itself as the protector of the citizens - and focuses above all on maintaining the party's dominant position. ... Rutte is clinging to his post.”
A new constellation is possible
De Volkskrant columnist Sheila Sitalsing points to the child benefit affair and hopes for change:
“In this country four legislatures can go by before someone notices that the state has unjustly criminalised and ruined an entire ethnic group. It can also happen that people who have had bad luck in life and have become dependent on state support sink further and further into a quagmire of meager social benefits and ever higher debts, election after election, just like that. ... But small miracles are possible. ... The prime minister's Covid bonus is melting away fast, and it looks as if the country's largest party won't even be able to muster a quarter of the vote. ... This means that a very large coalition will be necessary. And that could go to the right, to the left or somewhere in between - it's all open.”
Becoming the Dutch Merkel
Rutte is poised to become a "perpetual prime minister", writes Contributors:
“If despite a pandemic that has weakened many governments around the world, Mark Rutte now wins the elections for the fourth time in a row, it would be clear proof that his policies appeal to a large section of middle-class and upper-middle-class Dutch people. Rutte would thus become a kind of Dutch Merkel, naturally tailored to the tastes and interests of Dutch society. Moreover, it would show that the fierce, loud, smoky protests against the Covid restrictions seen on TV are irrelevant for Dutch society as a whole, and have changed next to nothing in the configuration of political options.”