Dutch PM stands by policy after EU election
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has said he does not regard the result of Thursday’s European parliamentary elections in the Netherlands as a judgment of government policy.The Hague - Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has said he does not regard the result of Thursday’s European parliamentary elections in the Netherlands as a judgment of government policy.
However, speaking after a cabinet meeting on Friday, Balkenende said he does see the result as a stimulus to the governing coalition to “deal firmly with issues where necessary, especially in Europe”.
Balkenende stressed that the elections were at European not national level, and anyway present a mixed picture of public opinion, as both pro-European and euro-sceptic parties made gains.
He said that the rise of Geert Wilders rightwing Freedom Party might create the impression abroad that “populism is triumphing in the Netherlands”, but he rejected this idea. He pointed out that pro-European parties remain in the majority.
In reference to the Freedom Party’s anti-Muslim stance, the Christian Democrat prime minister said, “I don’t want to live in a country in which people are sidelined because of their religion.”
According to the provisional results, the Freedom Party has proved to be the biggest winner in the elections, entering the European Parliament with four seats. The Labour Party was the biggest loser, retaining only three of its seven seats. The Christian Democrats remain the largest party with five seats.
Radio Netherlands / Expatica