Posted Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, at 9:00 AM
Until recently, the Netherlands was ruled by a right-wing coalition that included both two mainstream Europhilic parties (the Liberals and the Christian Democrats) and also a populist anti-EU party, Freedom and Democracy. The opposition was split between the Europhilic center left Labour Party and the far-left Socialist party. The governing coalition collapsed over euro-related disagreement, and in early polling the Socialists looked set to overtake labor. But now on the eve of the election it's all turned around and Labour and the Liberals are on top as seen in this exciting chart I've borrowed from the Financial Times.
The big center-left and center-right parties have managed to achieve this in part by downplaying the European issue and playing up traditional left-versus-right politics about taxes and the welfare state. And yet the practical result of this success seems likely to be a grand coalition that needs to table those issues, in order to pursue a shared agenda of backing the bailouts-and-austerity couse being steered by Angela Merkel.