Holanda: sondagem com partido mais à esquerda em primeiro lugar

Para vossa informação, aqui fica um artigo com interesse sobre o impacto que está a causar na Holanda a última sondagem que apresenta em primeiro lugar o partido mais à esquerda do parlamento, membro do GUE/NGL, conhecido como "partido dos tomates" - SP Socialistische Partij.

Financial Times
January 31, 2012

Dutch Socialists gain from eurozone woes

By Matt Steinglass in Amsterdam

When unionised care workers at an Amsterdam old-age home rallied last week to protest at layoffs and working hours, no one showed up from the city’s governing Labour party, the traditional majority party of the Dutch left.

But Maureen van der Pligt, a city councillor from the far-left Socialist party, was there.

“The Socialist party will keep supporting you when you need it,” she told a cheering, whistle-blowing room full of workers in rainbow-striped “Struggle for Healthcare” T-shirts.

With their uncompromising stance against government budget cuts and eurozone bail-outs, the Socialists have become this year’s big story in Dutch politics. Recent polls show them doubling their share of the vote to 20 per cent, far ahead of Labour (12 per cent), well above Geert Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom (PVV – 14 per cent), and neck and neck with the governing Liberals.
As austerity measures galvanise public opinion across Europe, the Socialists have seized the opportunity in the Netherlands, attracting voters from other leftwing parties by opposing unpopular eurozone rescues. The party has long been eurosceptic and opposed joining the euro in 2002.

Most of the Socialists’ new voters this year have come from Labour, which is paralysed by its support for the country’s conservative government on Europe. Because Mr Wilders opposes the eurozone deals, the Liberals rely on support from the leftwing opposition to get them through parliament, and Labour has gone along to preserve its reputation for responsible governance.

“I am surprised at Labour,” Ewout Irrgang, the Socialists’ finance spokesman, told the Financial Times. “We were already saying in 2010 that Greece’s debt was unsustainable. Labour could have made an excellent leftwing critique, that the bail-out deals were not in the interests of Europe but of the banking structure.”

Instead, as successive Greek bail-out deals have unraveled and austerity-focused eurozone rescue plans have come under fire, the Socialists have come to look more reasonable.

“The eurozone crisis is a current account balance problem, not a government deficit problem. Sovereign debts need to be restructured,” says Mr Irrgang, who is respected by Dutch economists and has worked at the country’s central bank.

At the same time, the Socialists have stolen the thunder of Mr Wilders, who rose to prominence by attacking Islam but has recently shifted to attacking Europe. Socialist leader Emile Roemer rejects anti-Muslim politics.

“They have formed a very coherent and active political force, very present in society, and they are slowly taking over the position of Labour on the left,” says Andre Krouwel, a political scientist at Amsterdam’s Free university.

“Wilders looks a lot like the Socialists on economic issues, though he doesn’t want to hear that – which is why some of his voters are considering voting for them.”

According to pollster Maurice De Hond, one in three of those who voted for Labour in 2010 would now vote for the Socialists, while 13 per cent of those who voted PVV would now vote Socialist.

Mr Wilders, meanwhile, was widely ridiculed this month after he criticised the Dutch queen for donning a veil while visiting a mosque in the United Arab Emirates, suggesting the appeal of his attacks on Islam is wearing thin. Polls show Mr Wilders’s party has fallen 3 per cent in the polls since the start of the year.

The Socialist party began as a Maoist splinter group in the 1970s but dropped Marxism-Leninism in the 1980s.

The party may soon get to test its popularity, if negotiations between the Liberals and Mr Wilders over €10bn in new budget cuts break down. Mr Wilders has vowed to block many cuts, and he may force early elections.

The prospect that the Socialists could emerge as the largest party is viewed nervously by the business community. Last week the head of the country’s powerful national business lobby attacked the party for “refusing to think about needed reforms”.

But it is precisely the dedication of stalwarts such as Ms van der Pligt to old-fashioned defence of workers’ shop-floor interests that gives the party its credibility. As the care workers left their confrontation with the old-age home’s management last week, Ms van der Pligt stayed behind to talk with the chairman of the board.

"I am going to have to keep following up with him to make sure something changes,” she said.

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