On the EU Elections

I wrote a piece for the Guardian on the Dutch vote during last week’s European Parliamentary elections. Here’s an excerpt:

The headlines on Friday morning in Amsterdam looked not unlike those in the international press around the world: “Far right wins big in Holland”. This was followed by a few paragraphs of analysis, or at least background as to why a leader who says he won’t even show up for work if he is elected could progress in a party in a country that some people still consider as a beacon of open-mindedness.

Yet no matter how big the font or how many exclamation points they use, the power of the far-right voters in the Netherlands is not the only development in 2009. What failed to get much more than a two-line afterthought in all these reports over the weekend is that the Freedom party (PVV) was not the only party to have made gains for the Dutch. Among them, the D66, a progressive-liberal party that has historically championed issues like gay marriage, euthanasia, legalised prostitution and the decriminalisation of drugs, also gained seats. While the PVV leapt from zero to four seats, the most pro-European party in the Netherlands went from one to three seats. According to the party’s platform, it favours a federal Europe, with more co-operation in regards to the environment, immigration and foreign policy. A far cry from a PVV that wants the Dutch to reduce the amount of money and resources the country dedicates to the European Union.

With more modest gains than either the PVV or the D66, little recognition has been given in the international press to the Groen-Links (Green Left) party, which also made gains in this election. The party will now have a total of three seats in Brussels. Once again, the news about steady growth by a pro-European party from the Netherlands which favoured the European constitution and more co-operation on issues like climate change, immigration, and peacekeeping is overshadowed by the story of the far right.

( Click here to read it in full on the Guardian’s website.)