The Dutch have just voted, and Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party took a big hit. The more centrist VVD and Labor parties increased seats, indicating that a solid Dutch majority is resolved to back both “austerity and the recent eurozone bailouts.”
Which, in its own way, is astounding, as another BBC report, on the same day, makes clear. The “fizz seems to have gone right out of the euro project, even here in Maastsricht,” writes Manuela Saragosa for the BBC, quoting one businessman insisting that “We have one Europe with totally different excise duties and taxes in each country. It doesn’t work. . . First work on harmonizing all that and then create a single currency. They did it the wrong way round.”
A common political problem.
But righting something done wrong is not easy.
Just ask Wilders. He was the one who started this political round, when his party gave a vote of no-confidence to the government, necessitating a new election. During the campaign, Wilders repeatedly denounced the heavy burden of the EU bailouts on a hypothetical Dutch couple named Henk and Ingrid. The illustration “backfired when a real-life Henk with a wife called Ingrid attacked and killed an immigrant.”
The Socialist Party also lost seats. Perhaps the party’s leader’s response to the very idea of austerity struck the Dutch as also unworthy: “Over my dead body” to spending cuts is not a very reasonable program for fending off the financial collapse of the Dutch pension and healthcare systems.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.