Reawakens a Radical Party
It is becoming increasingly difficult to measure just how much social and economic damage is being done by the insanely misguided policy of austerity that European leaders are imposing on members of the European Union. The latest victim is The Netherlands where as a result of that policy the ultra right wing has gained a new lease on life.
in July Geert Wilders, a far-right politician known for calling on the
ban the Koran and exit the euro, wrote them a piquant epitaph. Mr Wilders
announced he would hold talks with right-wing parties in other countries about
forming an anti-Europe bloc in the European Parliament elections this autumn.
He has since spoken with Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France, a party
similar to Mr Wilders’s Freedom Party in many ways, and with the Lega Nord in Netherlands . Having
shattered the multi-cultural Italy Netherlands,
which once brokered the integration of Europe, Mr Wilders is now proposing to
undertake Europe’s dismantling.
How did this radical ideologue get back into prominence after being marginalized? Austerity of course.
Anti-European feeling in the
is rooted in the
deteriorating economy. The country weathered the first years of the euro crisis
relatively unscathed, maintaining its AAA credit rating and a 4.5% unemployment
rate, the lowest in Netherlands Europe. With their
privileged economic position, the Dutch blamed profligate southern Europeans
for demanding support from the north. In 2011 they led the AAA countries (along
with Germany, Finland and Austria)
that demanded Europe harden its 3%
budget-deficit limit as part of the price for that support. Mr Rutte still
claims the strong enforcement powers granted to Olli Rehn, the EU’s budget
commissioner, as a personal achievement.
Yet as deficit-cutting progressed across
Dutch economy turned south. It has now been in recession for six quarters, with
output 1.8% lower in May compared with a year earlier and unemployment rising
to 6.8 %. Every economic projection has proved too optimistic. As revenues
shrank, the Dutch missed the 3% deficit target they had themselves helped
establish. Humiliating visits from Mr Rehn demanding ever-greater austerity
have lent weight to Mr Wilders’s charges that the government is slashing
spending and raising taxes merely to satisfy . Brussels
And what have European policy makers learned from all of this? Why nothing of course, they are incapable of learning.
During his latest visit in June, Mr Rehn demanded that the
push through an
additional €6 billion ($8 billion) in austerity measures in 2014, on top of
those already planned. Mr Rutte will have to pass a revised budget in September
though it is not clear whether he can. Netherlands
So just another day at the office for European leaders, another day, another country pushed towards social, political and economic crisis.