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One of the characteristics of any politician leading over an intergovernmental body should be the ability to get along with all the country members which such a leader is representing. Something that, to the Euro Group President the Dutch Jeroen Dijsselbloem, has forgotten for the last days. Dijssembloem has an oblivion about the institutional character of his position when, with the greatest seriousness and without any irony’ hint, he pointed out during an interview in the Frankfurter Allgemeine, about the Southern European countries, “the Northern European countries have had enough solidarity with those countries affected by the crisis of the Euro, while those in the south were spending the money which were given in drinks and women.” Liqueur and women. A comment loaded of stereotypes and prejudices improper of a person in such a position for the Eurozone.
It is not a bad comparison for a citizen of the Netherlands, where marijuana is smoked in the well-known coffee shops and the windows of the brothels in Amsterdam are a famous tourist claim, according to their old harbour tradition. But above all, it is an expressive example of lack of solidarity which is not very appropriate for a Social-Democrat. Dijsselbloem is a member of the PvDA, the Labour Party, which has been blown up in the recent Dutch elections. He is a leftist politician. And he is also responsible for a European institution.
Dijsselbloem compounded his mistake in the European Parliament the next day, when he refused to apologize for these insulting phrases, as some MEPs demanded. The pressure on the Dutch increased and spread, as it could not be otherwise, to all governments in southern Europe. The former Italian Prime Minister, Mateo Renzi, named his words as “stupid” and called for his immediate resignation. Portugal’s prime minister, Antonio Costa, added to the criticism and called Dijsselbloem words “racist, sexist and xenophobic. Mr. Dijssselbloem must resign of his current position.” Even his common political family, the Social-Democrats, have criticised calling him “a neoliberal Socialist, macho and racist.” The rain of insults took completely unprepared and very touched to one of the politicians with more weight and projection within the EU, an austere and rigorous moralist who since 2013, has taken the realms of the Eurozone.
In his country, The Netherlands, people are surprised by Dijsselbloem’ remarks, but also by the reactions he got. The Dutch believe that the accusations of racist and especially of macho are out of place. They defend him as a very honest person and one of the most genuine and decent politicians, who is used to tell the truth to the face. “I am sorry that anyone was offended by my comment, it was direct and can be explained by the strict Dutch Calvinist culture. I know it is not something which is always understood and appreciated throughout Europe,” he said reluctantly in a forced apology recently.
Such a message and this kind of moral superiority are not something new, surprisingly. I have listened to it and suffered myself several times. Since the beginning of the Euro crisis, the leaders of half a dozen countries, have tattooed on their DNA “The Protestant ethics and the spirit of capitalism” of Max Weber, making comparisons and dubious taste joking over the lazy southern neighbours while not working, are spending themselves the money of the hardworking Bavarian or Dutch savers in Fiesta. Although afterwards, these North Europeans do not hesitate to vacation in those lazy Southern countries, fascinated by their culture, art and beautiful nature, climate, their clean and blue seas, their food and way of life. And they occasionally enjoy there in a not very quiet and civilized way, even embarrassing sometimes for the local populations.
The dangerous pressure of the Populism is breaking the cohesion principle and rethinking the traditional European sense of solidarity, by understanding them as issues nowadays. Trump acting in the US with the latino immigration restrictions, and the obligation to those US companies to invest from and inside the US; The Brexit which has officially started; The populist Wilders, who was about to win the recent elections in The Netherlands, promising to the constituents to leave the EU, and redistributing the national income among their nationals of origin, nationals which must be of three or more generations. The populism has also spread to the left South European political parties thought: a false Populist far-left ideology which only admits the redistribution within the limits of its village, or the country. In Italy, Beppe Grillo wants to leave the EU, also Marine Le Pen in France. In Spain, the Catalan independentists claim that of they are tired of financing the subsidies of the Andalusian bums, idler folks, who are spending their lives in the sun and singing flamenco, in their romerias and fairs, as everyone knows.
Dijsselbloem has his current position in jeopardy already for a while, although he has held on it very good, supported by the difficult equilibrium of the ‘Brussels partitocracy‘. In this community environment, which is in fact an important ideological lobby, his mentality and approach has many supporters. But it has not helped enough, because seventy MEPs, mainly from the European People’s Party, have sent a letter calling for his resignation due to his biased, racist and sexist comments. Dijsselbloem should not remain for another day leading the Eurogroup. He has justified his words by the “Dutch direct speech“, while those MEPs consider that of “Calvinist culture has nothing to do with disparaging other people. Unbiased and having respect for values such as equality, must be the first obligation of any European leader. ” Certainly, the Dutch are very direct, but that does not mean that they are offensive. In fact, they tend to be very tolerant and politically correct, perhaps too much, and perhaps with whom they should not be ….