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the two-faced god Yanus is watching over the Dutch elections

There have been several reports of brewing conflict between the Netherlands and Germany over the future of European integration and about Prime Minister Rutte’s opportunistic behaviour, criticizing agreements which his government had proposed just a year ago. NRC reported on 18 and 20 June on the growing differences between the German leadership and the Dutch, with respect to budgetary and banking supervision (for example, on the role of the European Commission) and steps towards Political Union. CDA leader Haersma Buma commented this week that Rutte’s position on the EU was two-faced, split between increasing skepticism for home consumption (PVV light) and cooperative stance in EU fora. All this of course can be explained with the forthcoming elections, but continues to look, at least to me, hypocritical and short-sighted. The problem is not simply that different discourses at home and abroad misinform the Dutch electorate and strengthen nationalism by giving the wrong cues to those who may be inclined to examine different options. The problem is that, in the meantime, far-reaching plans for new steps in European integration are being prepared, as the Financial Times Brussels Blog reports. They need to be the subject of a wide and open public debate in the Netherlands, if they were ever to be legitimately agreed to by any Dutch government. The planned historical steps may be on the table at the European Council meetings sooner than we think. Sticking their heads in the sand and campaigning as if nothing is happening does not show much capacity for real leadership among those looking to get reelected. Adopting the stance of the two-faced god Yanus may seem like a good electoral strategy, but Dutch political leaders must not forget Yanus was believed to be the God of transitions, with one face looking to the future or new beginnings. Hopefully this is what they are really doing….

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