Could 'Nexit' follow Brexit after Dutch elections?

2017-02-19 22:16
Firebrand lawmaker Geert Wilders poses for pictures during an election campaign stop in Spijkenisse near Rotterdam. (Peter Dejong, AP)

Firebrand lawmaker Geert Wilders poses for pictures during an election campaign stop in Spijkenisse near Rotterdam. (Peter Dejong, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rotterdam - For a small nation that has grown hugely wealthy thanks to centuries of doing business far and wide, the political mood in the Netherlands has turned surprisingly inward.

As a March 15 parliamentary election looms in the Netherlands - one of the founding members of the European Union - popular lawmaker Geert Wilders is dominating polls with an isolationist manifesto that calls for the Netherlands "to be independent again. So out of the EU."

After Britons voted last year to divorce from the EU, could a Dutch departure - known here as "Nexit," after "Brexit" - be close behind?

"I see the European Union as an old Roman Empire that is ceasing to exist. It will happen," said Wilders.

European unity

Wilders' Party for Freedom is a serious contender to win the popular vote, with most polls a month out from the election showing it ahead of all other parties. Over the past dozen years, the Dutch have already voted against EU proposals twice.

Few analysts think "Nexit" would materialise: Despite his popularity, Wilders will struggle to find coalition partners among mainstream parties, which shun him and his strident anti-Islam, anti-EU rhetoric.

Then again, few observers predicted last year that Britain would vote to become the first country to leave the EU, so the worries are real about the possible effects of a Nexit - or a further disintegration of European unity driven by the rise of nationalist populism throughout the continent.

An exit from the EU would likely deal a huge blow to Rotterdam, a cosmopolitan city known for its port, one of the world's busiest. The city employs nearly 90 000 people and a further 90 000 are directly linked to its activities elsewhere in the country.

Port of Rotterdam corporate strategist Michiel Nijdam believed a Dutch exit from the EU seemed unlikely, though not impossible.

"Because we are so dependent on our trade with other countries that it would clearly hurt us so much that I don't think it's likely," he said. "But you never know what happens if a lot of people think it's a good idea and you vote on a party that is pro-Nexit."

Nijdam was speaking in the port's imposing Norman Foster-designed headquarters, which commands views over the port and the Nieuw Maas river that bisects the city. Cranes at container terminals can be seen to the west, while low-slung barges glide past, heading eastward along rivers and canals into the heart of Europe.

The port made a profit of €222m last year as it dealt with 461 million metric tons of freight. Some 28 000 sea-going vessels and 100 000 inland waterway barges used the port in 2016.

Dutch economy

"The effects will be the opposite of the effects we had from the opening of Europe," Nijdam said. "That means that it's more difficult to organise your logistics through the Netherlands, so it will clearly have an impact on supply chains that will shift their routes from Rotterdam to other ports.

"The Netherlands will be less attractive that's for sure. For logistics it's not a good decision to leave the EU."

Wilders disagrees, pointing to a report his party commissioned that showed the Dutch economy would benefit from an exit. The Netherlands would remain a strong trading nation while saving billions in funding to the trade bloc, it claimed.

"The position of Rotterdam will really be the same after we would leave the European Union," he said. "It will not be that Rotterdam all of a sudden will have moved to Sweden."


Read more on:    eu  |  geert wilders  |  the netherlands  |  brexit

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

7 weirdly awesome pets you can own

If you think it’s too boring to own a cat or a dog, consider getting one of these pets.

 
 

Paws

Pack theory: fact or fiction?
Perfect dog-walking 1: Why dogs pull on the lead
SA stats: The role of pets in families
The top 6 poisonous foods for your pet
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.