Posts Tagged ‘ Mark Rutte ’

Out With The Old And In With The New: From Hollande to Holland

This week has already proven to be tumultuous time for European politics and it’s only Monday. A wave of change seems to be washing over both France and the Netherlands, leaving some of the top posts in Europe currently up for grabs.

The first round of the French Presidential elections saw Francois Hollande take a step closer to becoming the first ever Socialist President of France, his 28% giving him a clear lead over Nicolas Sarkozy’s mere 26%. Although not yet defeated, this can be seen as a personal blow to Sarkozy. Not only is it a spanner in his campaign to be re-elected but it also can be viewed as a resounding personal defeat; it is the first time in 50 years that an outgoing President has failed to secure a majority in the first round of votes. It has been noted by many that success for Hollande could mark a turning point for politics in Europe. Hollande favours a European fiscal pact that encompasses provisions on growth and jobs rather than just purely austere measures. This could leave the German Chancellor Angela Merkel more isolated in her insistence that rigid austerity measures are the only way to resolve the euro crisis.

In other significant news, the Dutch Prime Minister today resigned from his post after an emergency cabinet meeting was called.The Dutch government information service released a statement that left no uncertainty on the matter:

“Prime Minister Mark Rutte has offered his cabinet’s resignation to her Majesty Dutch Queen Beatrix,”

This move was not entirely unforeseen after crucial negotiations on a new set of austerity measures collapsed at the weekend. Geert Wilders’ dissent on the matter meant that the government no longer had the support of the Freedom Party, support that had ensured the government’s majority in Parliament in recent months.

What with Hollande’s recent success in the Presidential campaign and his desire to encourage job growth, perhaps he will soon be in a position to offer Mr.Rutte a new post? But for now we must be content to surmise on what the coming days will bring. One thing is for sure; all eyes will remain fixed on Europe to see how both the French and Dutch situations play out.

“Nothing To Fear” – Kenny on Potential Fiscal Referendum

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has today said that there is “nothing to fear from a referendum” on the proposed eurozone fiscal treaty.

Mr Kenny made the comments ahead of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels at which the wording of such a document will be agreed. Irish government officials are said to be hopeful that the final text will enable the treaty to be implemented without the holding of a national referendum.

Mr Kenny said, “I’ve made this perfectly clear: that when the text is finalised, I will ask the Attorney General formally to present the government with the Attorney General’s response as to whether the agreed text – as finalised by the politicians – is in compliance with our constitution. If it is in compliance with Bunreacht na hÉireann, there is no need for a referendum. If it’s not, there will be a referendum.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland radio programme today, Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton said she was hopeful the core of the draft treaty would remain unchanged. She also acknowledged that it would be difficult for Ireland to remain in the eurozone if voters rejected the treaty, saying “I think it would make it almost impossible for us to continue as part of the currency union because being part of a currency union means you have to abide by the rules.” On the same programme, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pádraig Mac Lochlainn accused the government of “running away from debate” by not holding a referendum.

A Belgium-wide general strike is currently underway to coincide with the political summit in Brussels. The work stoppage was organised by trade unions in protest at the plans of the newly-formed government to cut €11 billion in public spending and to raise the country’s retirement age. AFP reports that no public transport is available and blockades are present on many of the country’s roads, forcing the Belgian government to arrange access for the arriving EU leaders through a military airport.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte told assembled reporters in Brussels that he hoped the conference would capacitate Greece, Portugal and Ireland to become less reliant on EU funding and to return to the open borrowing markets.

Germany recently confirmed it is seeking to have an EU-appointed “budget commissioner” sent to Greece with powers to override its government’s budget policy if necessary. Any other bailout-recipient country, including Ireland, that consistently miss repayment targets could face a similar fate.

Twenty five of the twenty seven EU states have consented to a eurozone fiscal stability treaty, with Britain and the Czech Republic refusing to sign the proposed intergovernmental document.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has become the latest opposition politician to voice his reservations about the treaty, describing it as “too limited to solve the crisis”.

The treaty will be formally signed at the next EU summit in early March and ratified by 1 January, 2013.

If the Attorney General decides the treaty does not breach the Constitution and a referendum is not required to implement it, a legal challenge from opposition parties is likely. The United Left Alliance today described not holding a referendum as “utterly undemocratic”.