Tuesday, August 21, 2012

La Rentrée

It's been a dull summer, but September promises to be an active month politically speaking. There will be elections in the Netherlands on Sept. 12, and the Socialist Party there is expected to do well:

Party leader Emile Roemer is staunchly anti-austerity (and a good deal to the left of Hollande):
Economic policy can [not] and must not be reduced to a set of rules which prescribe debt reduction.

Thirteen of the 17 eurozone countries are above the three percent deficit. Who is going tell who what to do? Come on, let’s use our minds and not become too obsessed with the agreed numbers…Rules are good, but we have to adjust to the realities of the moment. I am sure I’ll get broad support in Europe for this.
Such a shift in policy in a northern core economy could significantly affect the balance of power in the EU. On the same day, Sept. 12, the German Constitutional Court will rule on the legality of the European Stability Mechanism. These two events will have great significance for the future of French policy, but there isn't much that Hollande can do about either of them. His responses to both will be interesting to watch, however.


martinned said...

Nice to see you write about the Netherlands. Quick tip, though: you left your French goggles on. In the Netherlands, as you can see from the chart, even the biggest parties barely reach above 30 seats out of 150, and there are no pre-arranged coalitions (like in Sweden, for example). A block of the left will be too small, as it historically always has been. A block of the right is impossible because no one wants to work with Wilders anymore, so that leaves a coalition in the centre. Whoever gets to be prime minister of such a coalition - Rutte or Roemer - they will have to do a lot of compromising in order to get the Christian-Democrats, the Labour party and the other centrist parties on board. And since every single one of those parties expressed harsh disapproval of Roemer's remarks (rather exaggeratedly so, in my opinion), I think the Netherlands' membership of the pro-austerity block is safe for now.

(The VVD and the Christian Democrats like it because they like balanced budgets, and the centre-left likes austerity because it is pro-European.)

Art Goldhammer said...

Thanks, martinned. Yes, I should have mentioned that Roemer is closer to Mélenchon than to Hollande. And thanks for the summary of the Dutch political situation. Very useful.