Why is Holland’s Government so Stern with Spain? Winning Votes at Home but Losing Popularity Abroad

Netherlands goes into lockdown tomorrow
Dutch PM, Mark Rutte. Credit: Twitter

THE Netherland’s Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, has become highly popular amongst Dutch nationals due to his management of the coronavirus crisis, although this has lost him some points with the European Union.

The Dutch Prime Minister has spoken sternly in relation to the coronavirus crisis, and specifically to those countries who have been affected the worst, which has caused some tension in the European Union, however at home Rutte has only received praise for his actions.

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According to various polls, Mark Rutte’s liberal party is forecasted to win up to eight more seats in the upcoming general election in 2021. This is due to the role he had in managing the crisis and unifying the local population under a discourse of maturity and social responsibility. Some voters even consider him to be the ‘ideal politician,’ even amongst voter demographics who never give the Liberals their vote.

When speaking to Europe, Rutte talks about numbers with a cold mind and a calculator in his hand. When he speaks to his country, he speaks about optimism and empathy giving messages of closeness, unity and solidarity. He can be seen visiting a supermarket and making jokes with the staff or partaking in a gym lesson for one of the few open schools which caters for the children of essential workers fighting against Covid-19.

Rutte has injected billions of euros into the country’s economy, including aid for the self-employed and economic help for those individuals who have lost their jobs during the crisis. It has mobilised banks to show solidarity with those unable to pay their mortgage and homeowners to be patient with distressed tenants.

“I am aware of how big the impact is. There is fear, people feel lonely, and I know we shouldn’t stretch it [confinement] more than is necessary. But it is important that we continue to honour the agreements for now. We are still at the beginning.” The Prime Minister acknowledges.

Rutte is aware that the pressure on the hospitals is still high enough to put off talking about de-escalation of the measures. “The metre and a half safety distance will continue with us for much longer,” he added, about the interpersonal distance to keep on the street. For now, this will continue at least until April 28.

His position is summed up in a few words: “I am not going to decree anything, this is the danger we face and we only emerge from this if the 17 million inhabitants adhere to the rules.”

His choice to not decree a State of Alarm, he argues, is because it is of no use if the population does not all agree that they have to get out of this crisis together and put in the effort.

He has been defined as a politician who treats his people with maturity. He shows full confidence in his population, who in the end has stayed at home and has respected social distancing, and this has been precisely what has earned Rutte his popularity and confidence.

“I am very proud of you,” Rutte told the Dutch society after many were locked up at home out of responsibility, despite the sun and good weather. In Holland, you can still go for a walk, run or take the kids to the park without receiving a fine.

This liberal politician is already planning for the course of the nation after the health emergency. “Good health care, good education, and solid public facilities. That is why I work as a liberal.” The election campaign statement that will resonate in the minds of many voters in March 2021.

With less than a year to go until the 2021 general election, analysts see The Netherland’s position in Brussels as a strategy to flirt with far-right voters. Traditionally these right-wing voters are reluctant to matters concerning the European Union and very critical of the use of Dutch money to help southern countries. This, along with immigration policy, is the backbone of the Baudet’s far-right’s electoral campaign, which last year made his party the largest in the Dutch Senate. Today, the polls forecast three seats less for his party in the next elections.

Although the attitude and actions of Dutch Finance Minister, Wopke Hoekstra, were also widely criticised within The Netherlands, causing him to apologise for appearing selfish and unsympathetic, the content of his argument and his overall stance received a favourable amount of support in the Dutch Parliament.

The “no to the coronabonos” was practically shouted in unison in The Hague and Hoekstra promised the House of Representatives that the use of ESM funds, if not for the purchase of medical supplies against Covid-19, will not be touched. Spain and Italy will have to commit to immediate reforms of their economy to receive financial aid.


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