‘Rutte deliberately let the Turkey situation escalate’

Thijs van Beusekom 15-03-2017, 08:44

Foto: Hilmi Hacaloğlu, VOA

Turkish_people_protesting_the_Netherlands (1)

The Radboud Reflects lecture yesterday was dedicated to the tension between the Netherlands and Turkey. Was Mark Rutte's reaction a strategic one? Does the disagreement help Geert Wilders? Did the political left react correctly?

The Cultuurcafe was packed yesterday afternoon. The Radboud Reflects lecture on the diplomatic tension between The Netherlands and Turkey motivated a lot of people to spend their lunch break there. Political scientists Andrej Zaslove and Maurits Meijer shed their light on the escalation’s influence on today’s election results.

Strategic escalation
According to Zaslove, the political scandal between The Netherlands and Turkey could have been prevented. ‘But that was not an option for Mark Rutte. He had to react firmly, because that was part of his strategy. He played it fantastically.’ According to the political scientist, the scandal helped Rutte to beat Geert Wilders in Monday’s important television debate. The latter had to admit that the Prime Minister handled the situation with Turkey correctly. On top of that, Rutte managed to get the mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, on his side. A good move, according to Zaslove.

‘The situation escalated because minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya was not allowed to enter her own consulate’, Meijer adds. ‘The Dutch government could have chosen to allow a small gathering in the consulate, that would have been a fair solution.’ Meijers calls NATO’s attitude remarkable. ‘It appears that NATO tries to say as little as possible about the topic, to prevent further escalation of the situation.’

A strong leader
The left-winged parties don’t know how to react to the situation, according to Meijers. Take GroenLinks, a party that pursues a culturally progressive policy. ‘That party cannot take a stance that

‘Rutte did a fantastic job’

is too firm, because GroenLinks wants to be as inclusive as possible.’ The party does not benefit from more attention for this topic, Meijers thinks.

DENK also will not benefit much from the tension, according to both scientists. ‘DENK cannot say too much about Erdogan, because the party wants to address all Turkish voters, the proponents as well as the opponents’, Meijers explains. Zaslove reasons that it is impossible for DENK to choose. ‘Because that would allow Rutte to take voters from DENK.’

According to Zaslove, Wilders could have done more with the situation. ‘Now, Erdogan and Rutte are the winners’, he says. ‘I start to look like a bit of a Rutte-fanatic, but he did a fantastic job. Never waste a good crisis. By letting the situation escalate deliberately, and solve it after that, Rutte managed to present himself as a strong leader.’

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