• Welcome to EUCAnet

    Welcome to EUCAnet

    Experts on EU & Europe in Canada

Latest Media Tip

Romanian civic spirit at its best

Romanian civic spirit at its best

Feb 14, 2017 - by Lavinia Stan, President, Society for Romanian Studies, Department of Political Science, St. Francis Xavier University

For almost two weeks now, hundreds of thousands of Romanian ordinary citizens and civil society activists have taken to the street in Bucharest, across the country, and even in cities like London where significant numbers of Romanian migrants live and work to protest against the Social Democratic government of Sorin Grindeanu. A little known politician with no previous ministerial experience, Grindeanu was nominated as prime minister by the Social Democrats, who in the December 2016 elections won almost half of all seats in the bicameral parliament. Grindeanu’s name might have never been proposed if President Klaus Iohannis had accepted Social Democratic Party leader Liviu Dragnea as prime minister. But Dragnea was under investigation for fraud, and thus Iohannis warned that unscrupulous corrupt politicians should not occupy high-ranking government positions.

Read more

Political Party Fragmentation in the Netherlands

March 13, 2017 - by Willem Maas, Glendon College, York University

Much has changed in the Netherlands since its last parliamentary elections in 2012 – but much more has changed elsewhere. The Arab Spring has turned into the Arab Winter, and the Syrian civil war has worsened dramatically, leading millions to seek refuge. Russia under Putin has invaded eastern Ukraine and outright annexed Crimea. Turkey slides towards authoritarianism and its bid to join the European Union (EU) looks stalled at best, as the Erdoğan government jails and sidelines opponents with impunity. Resurgent nationalism mixed with populism leads governments in Hungary, Poland, and elsewhere to oppose immigrants and the EU. Similar dynamics drove the votes for Brexit and Trump, which have heightened geopolitical uncertainty.

In the 2012 elections, the anti-immigrant and anti-EU party (PVV) of Geert Wilders dropped from 24 to 15 seats in the 150-seat lower house, and lost its role supporting the governing coalition. The defection of over one-third of its voters was a bitter defeat made all the more dramatic because it was Wilders himself who forced the elections by withdrawing his support from the government formed after the 2010 elections: a minority coalition of the conservative VVD (31 seats) and the Christian democratic CDA (21 seats), which depended on the PVV to pass legislation.

Continue Reading

The Netherlands Vote – expect the unexpected  

March 13, 2017  -  Amy Verdun, Jean Monnet Chair ad Personam, University of Victoria

As the Dutch voters get ready to vote in the General Elections on Wednesday 15 March in the Netherlands, there is more international attention to these elections than is usually the case. Why is that? In a year with many upcoming national elections in various European countries (France and Germany for instance), and following on the increased interest by voters in the United Kingdom and the United States (US) to cause political turmoil, the eyes are now fixed on the Netherlands.

The reason is that the PVV party led by Geert Wilders – populist right-wing that profiles itself on an anti-immigration platform – is competing with the VVD right-wing liberal party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte are neck and neck in the polls. Either party is due to become the largest party in the Dutch second chamber. However, being voted the largest party in the Netherlands does not mean that it will receive many votes. The Dutch system being extremely proportional generates a political landscape whereby none of the large six parties is forecast to get more than 16% of the vote. Currently the polls have both PVV and VVD at 24 (out of 150) seats with three other parties trailing at 16 seats: Greenleft, the Socialist Party and the Democrats ‘66.

On Monday 13 March the first US style leaders debate took place hosted by 1-vandaag. To date Geert Wilders has not participated in any of the election debates and he also broke with a Dutch custom by not making his election program very clear: it exists on one piece of paper and he has not submitted his program to the online voting advice applications. Most Dutch political parties will typically produce a lengthy document and independent agencies will calculate the impact and feasibility of these programs. Thus, for many there was quite some anticipation to watch this leaders debate.

The 1-vandaag election debate was generally seen as a high-quality debate but each of them concentrated on profiling themselves in line with their own voters and as such most journalists indicated that they felt that Rutte won ‘on points’. This debate took part against the backdrop of a political row involving Turkey. It is as of yet unclear whether this row will have an impact on the elections. To date the polling companies suggest that the polls have not (yet) responded. Tomorrow, 14 March, the last leaders’ debate will take place with sixteen leaders part of it. If there is another aspect of this election that is spectacular it is the fact that the result of these elections promises to generate a very large number of very small parties.

Thursday 16 March, the day after, will be closely watched internationally. Many will want to see whether the Netherlands, that is known for its progressive stance on values, long time open economy, friendly towards the European Union, will find itself with the largest party made up of a politician with blonde dyed hair, who says he wants to get rid of mosques, close the borders, and leave the EU. Even though it is extremely unlikely that this party, even if it emerges as the largest party, will be able to form a coalition, it would still be a shock to the system. 

Picture: The Guardian, March 2nd

More Articles ...