Amid economic turmoil in several European Union members states, many nations around the world are now closely following the opinion of the people in one of the European Union’s founding countries: The Netherlands. On Wednesday, Sept. 12, general elections were held in the Dutch country.
The House of Representatives of the Dutch parliament has 150 members representing several parties. As one of the few European countries that is still somewhat economically stable, the view of the EU economy played a significant role in the Netherlands before the elections. Many Mediterranean countries have been forced to borrow large amounts of money from Northern states to retain their liquidity. While countries like the Netherlands, Germany and the Scandinavian states realize that monetary support of the struggling nations is necessary, opposition has increased significantly over the years.
Just two parties are needed to represent a majority in the Dutch parliament. Both the “right-wing” Liberal Party and the “left-wing” Labor Party have gained a large amount of votes; together representing 79 of the 150 members of parliament. I put right- and left-wing in quotation marks because both the Dutch Liberal and the Labor Party would be considered fairly liberal in the United States.
The Dutch voters have shown what Europe needs in troublesome times like the present economic crisis: instead of moving to the edges of the political spectrum, the European economy requires cooperation and reasonable policies that attempts to minimize the financial problems almost all EU nations face. The anti-Europe, anti-immigration Freedom Party and the hard-left Socialist Party, which are on opposite political extremes in the Netherlands, consequently have lost a fair share of votes.
With the German elections coming up in 2012, this voting trend might be an indicator of what to expect in that election as well. As the most important economy in Europe, Germany faces similar problems. The German population is worried about the seemingly endless amounts of money transferred to countries like Greece and Spain. Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly opposes injecting more money into the Greek economy, but she eventually has to agree that bankruptcy of that country would have a far greater impact on all European countries. Also in Germany, politicians have to draw the conclusion that cooperation is inevitable. Sticking to their own party policy will neither help the country nor the European Union as a whole, and will only make things worse.
With all of its member-states, each with a government especially interested in its own land, implementing significant policy changes in the European Union is not as easy as it is in the United States. This fact leads to some difficulties when revolutionary change is necessary. However, with Germany as a clear economic leader, the Union will do everything within its capabilities to sustain its position in world politics and the global economy.
With the results of the parliamentary election, now is the time for Dutch politicians to form a new government that can rely on a cooperative majority in parliament.
For Europe to overcome this economic crisis, the result of the Dutch elections might be a good catalyst. If the larger countries on the continent follow this trend set by the Netherlands, chances are the EU can bring the crisis to a timely end.
Arthur Molenaar is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com.
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