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Wilders Brings Down The Dutch Government Over Austerity Issue

Geert Wilders withdrew the support of his Freedom Party forcing new elections.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 4/22/2012, 7:05 PM

Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders
Reuters

Geert Wilders the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, has pulled the plug on the coalition that he has been supporting from the outside. Wilders is taking a gamble in bringing down the government and perhaps triggering a lowering of the Dutch credit rating from AAA status. He is risking the massive gains that his party made in the last election.

On the other hand, the decision is hardly a surprise. If on the issue of immigration and compelling immigrants and particularly Muslim immigrants to embrace Dutch culture wilders has been classified as part of the political right, on social issues he tends to vote with the left. He claims in support of his decision that Dutch pensioners "will not bleed for Brussels." In other words, he objects to severe budget cuts that will allow the Netherlands to meet the 3% deficit target prescribed in the European Stability Pact. Pensioners represent a substantial part of the Freedom Party's electorate.

Additionally Wilders is watching the elections in France where he can see that the partisans of growth are about to vanquish the disciples of austerity. If his analysis is correct why go against the wishes of his electorate, when the policy is about to change in any case?

Wilders may also hope to play into resentment against Brussels. The Dutch have been generally stolid and solid citizens and can hardly be compared with Greece and Italy. They may feel that they are entitled to a bit of consideration when they hit a rough spot (Germany as well got leeway) in the expectation that they will not abuse this trust. The Dutch are resenting the one-size-fits-all policy imposed by the European Union and therefore Wilders senses an opening.

The snap elections that his decision will bring about will offer the decisive test of whether his political instincts helped his cause or betrayed him.