What's New(s)

WHAT’S NEW(S) – 19/03/2021

WHAT’S NEW(S) – 19/03/2021

Dutch elections

This Wednesday, all eyes were set on the Netherlands, when the Dutch casted their vote in the midst of the ongoing crisis and after a rough political year resulting in the government's resignation last January. Despite the political crisis, Mark Rutte managed to win, again, aiming for a fourth term in office. What is his secret, according to the European media? And how will the next Dutch government look like? 

You'll find the script below :

This Wednesday, all eyes were set on the Netherlands, when the Dutch casted their vote in the midst of the ongoing crisis and after a rough political year marked by the government resignation on January 15. What were the highlights of the election day according to the Dutch media ?

In the Dutch press quite some attention for the ‘particularities’ of this election day. Compared to other years, a relatively high turnout already on Wednesday morning, but not because the Dutch were queuing up for the polls. For the first time, voters over 70 could vote by mail, and some polls already opened on Monday. For minister of health Hugo de Jonge, who, for many, embodies the restrictive Corona measures, the day started pretty bad in terms of media attention. He was asked to go home when he brought an outdated passport to the polling station, just before his Corona-application advised him to quarantine. “Quite an adventure”, according to the minister himself, as quoted by het Parool.

And how were the elections pictured by the European press ?

In the European media, much attention for Mark Rutte’s ‘secret to remain in power’. According to Jon Henley in the Guardian, it is because of his “no-nonsense image”, that the Dutch like, and “his talent of building and maintaining unlikely alliances”. According to El País, the management of the current crisis has boosted his popularity. Der Spiegel writes that Rutte looks reliable to his electorate, and gives its voters the feeling their voices are being heard. A leadership figure that helps them through the crisis.

And what do the outcomes mean for the formation of the government ? What’s next ?

Well, to no one’s surprise, and as predicted by the media, Rutte indeed won, again. Left-liberal D66 however became surprisingly second. Dutch newspaper NRC pictured three scenarios for the upcoming weeks, based on the statements of the leaders of the biggest parties. The most probable one, according to the newspaper, is a centre coalition, similar to the current government, with Rutte in charge. At the same time, it can be questioned whether the current coalition is still willing to continue, with growing frictions and accusations between parties, and the loss for the Christian Democrats (CDA). The second scenario would be a leftist government, bringing together the D66 with the socialists and greens, even though, the newspaper states, the parties failed to form a block ahead of the elections, again. The last, and least likely option, is a government on the right, including the PVV, and controversial Forum for Democracy. The weeks to come will show which scenario will become reality.

But the Netherlands was not the only country where internal politics made it across the borders ? Can you tell us what happened in Spain this week ?

A political earthquake in Spain. The Spanish public Television described Madrid as the new and unexpected electoral battleground. It all started in Murcia in January, when the vaccination of 450 senior officials and public servants led to the resignation of the health minister and a proposed vote of no confidence. According to El Confidencial, the Popular Party (PP) approached three of the six Liberal party (Ciudadanos) deputies and offered them a cabinet, which they accepted, against the party rules. The president of Madrid resigned and called for new elections. The latest to join the game was Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos and vice-president of the government, who resigned from his functions in order to present himself as a candidate for the Madrid elections. "Iglesias has not been able to resist being the protagonist of the series on political conspiracy that he himself writes", wrote Tomás García ironically in La Voz de Galicia.

And besides the political turmoil, headlines were grabbed by the spreading ban on AstraZeneca. A rightful decision according to the press ?

Last week, La Repubblica ended the week with the front page 'AstraZeneca, fear in Europe'. A cover that was labelled as controversial. Today, already 16 governments in Europe have suspended the use of AstraZeneca. But why is this happening? According to the German vaccine regulator quoted by The Telegraph the number of people suffering cerebral blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca jab in Germany was “statistically significantly higher”. The company argues there have been 37 reports of blood clots out of more than 17 million people vaccinated and that there is no evidence the vaccine carries an increased risk of clots. Hellen Collis stated in Politico that on the other side of the channel some UK critics are concluding that the suspension must be political. Dave Keating, of France 24, highlights that “the ferocity” of the UK reaction to this issue shows just how out of control the nationalist 'British Vaccine' narrative on AstraZeneca has become.

Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

crédits photo : CC BY-NC-ND © ALDE Party