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European Journal

The Netherlands: the Old and New Left

A leading Socialist Party candidate in the Netherlands, Emile Roemer, could well emerge from the upcoming election as the first Dutch left wing-socialist prime minister.

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After the Netherlands' near-seismic shift to the right of recent years, a victory for the left might seem more of a revolution returning the country to old ideals. Dutch voters have traditionally leaned to the left, and left wing alternative living projects and organizations are numerous. Roemer's party once flirted with Maoism, but how much does he really share old leftist ideals? He criticizes the European Union and the free market, calls for social justice and rejects any hint of cuts in pensions or state health care. But once in power, he might well have to steer his country on a difficult course through the economic and euro crisis.