Bewilder(s)ed and Bemused? The Dutch Parliamentary Election Explained to Other Europeans

Bewilder(s)ed and Bemused? The Dutch Parliamentary Election Explained to Other Europeans

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On 15 March the Dutch voters will kick off a crucial European election year. After the shockwaves of the Brexit referendum and Trump’s victory in the States, all eyes are now on Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV). According to recent opinion polls Wilders’ modest variation on Trump’s election slogan ‘Make the Netherlands ours again’ has so far attracted 16 percent of the vote, though the trend has been going downward in recent weeks. Still, there’s only one party which is competing for the pole position and that is Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s centre right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). All other parties, including Rutte’s coalition partner, the social democratic Labour Party (PvdA) are way behind. But even with the PVV in a winning mood, the likelihood that Wilders will become the next Dutch Prime Minister or at least a partner in a government coalition is as good as zero (which, of course, is what most of us thought about the chances of Brexit and Trump’s victory as well), as the majority of parties has excluded an alliance with the PVV. But whatever government will emerge after the March election, the question remains: how could it come so far that in a rich and uneventful country like the Netherlands, co-founder and model pupil of the European Community, famous for its apparent tolerance and European-mindedness, a Eurosceptic and xenophobic politician can dominate the public debate like Wilders has done for many years now? Many outside the Netherlands have difficulties understanding this development of a country whose citizens have little to worry about compared to many others in Europe and elsewhere. We have invited two journalists from countries of the south of Europe with totally different political agendas and realities, Spain and Greece, to ask the questions. A Dutch trio consisting of a politician, an ex-politician and a journalist will try to answer not only their question but also those of the hopefully numerous audience.

When: Wednesday, 22 March 2017, 12:30 – 14:00, (light lunch 12:00-12:30)

Where: Hotel Leopold, Rue du Luxembourg 35, 1050 Brussels

The Dutch panellists are:

  • Bas Eickhout, Member of the European Parliament (Greens-EFA)
  • Michiel van Hulten, ex- Member of the European Parliament, former Chairman of the Dutch social-democratic party PvdA, currently  independent consultant and Visiting Senior Fellow at the LSE European Institute
  • Marc Peeperkorn, Brussels correspondent De Volkskrant

The questions will be asked by:

  • Lucía Abellán Hernández, Brussels correspondent El País (Spain)
  • Eleni Varvitsiotis, Brussels correspondent Kathimerini (Greece)
  • the audience

MC: Marianne Ebertowski, Director European Policy Programme, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung European Union

No admittance without confirmed registration. E-Mail registration only

Please send the attached reply form to: marianne.ebertowski@eu.boell.org.

Working language English

  •  You are invited to send us questions for the Dutch panellists which you can ask them during the debate. Please use your registration form for this purpose
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