Dutch Elections: Austerity cuts to disappear, Parties anticipate strong economy

Election time in the Netherlands - directions to voting stations
Election time in the Netherlands - directions to voting stations. Photo: Onderwijsgek / Wikipedia

Voters will have quite a selection to choose from in the parliamentary elections next month when it comes to picking a political party based on the financial and economic choices, according to calculations by Dutch central planning office CPB. A major difference between this and last election is that the parties are focused on spending money now that the economy is recovering, instead of the 2012 election's focus on cutbacks in the aftermath of the financial crisis, NU.nl reports.

In October last year the CPB approached all parties in parliament and asked for their election programs. Eleven parties handed their program over for the CPB calculations and the office looked at a total of 1,165 measures. The measures included everything to do with structural employment, purchasing power and sustainability of government finances. The calculations involved figuring out what affect he parties' policies would have at the end of the governing term in 2021. The office presented their findings on Thursday. 

When it comes to purchasing power, the SP program will put households 2.3 percent ahead at the end of the governing term in 2021. Welfare recipients' purchasing power would increase 3.2 percent. The PvdA and GroenLinks plans both see households' purchasing power increase by 1.2 percent. New liberal-right party VNL's plans would increase purchasing power by 1.6 percent.

Parties that have less ambitious plans for purchasing power include the VVD and D66 (both +0.7 percent), CDA and SGP (both +0.6 percent) and DENK (+0.1 percent).

Compared to the current policies, all parties will increase government spending. Only DENK creates more revenue for the government with higher taxes and increasing the gas production. In almost all cases there will be a budget surplus in 2021 - government earns more than it spends. EU regulations require countries not to have a bigger budget deficit than 3 percent of gross domestic province. Only the plans of the Vrijzinnige Partij exceed this limit. 

The VVD is the party most committed to structural employment opportunities, which will increase by 3 percent with their program. That is significantly higher than the other parties. The D66 comes in second place with only plus 0.7 percent. The SP even decreases structural employment opportunities with -4.6 percent. 

The VVD is also the party that increases employment most in the private sector: 0.3 percent per year until 2021. The CDA comes in close second with 0.2 percent per year. The PvdA, CDA, D66 and GroenLinks all create more jobs in the public sector. 

The SP will decrease the wage gap most, followed by the other two left-wing parties GroenLinks and PvdA. 

All parties except VNL plan to reduce taxes for companies. And everyone except the Vrijzinnige Partij and DENK plan to reduce taxes for families. The D66, GroenLinks and PvdA want additional investments on education. VNL wants to cut spending on education, but invest in security and Defense. The CDA and SGP also want to invest in Security and Defense. 

There are also clear differences between the left-wing and right-wing parties when it comes to their plans for healthcare. The SP will have healthcare costs increase significantly - the party wants to implement an National Care Fund, which will cost the state a lot of money. Healthcare costs will also increase under the PvdA and GroenLinks. The VVD, CDA, D66, ChristenUnie and SGP lower healthcare costs. 

The CBP was sure to add a footnote to their calculations, according to NU.nl. The CPB did these calculations on the assumption that each party will get a majority on its own and therefore govern on its own - no compromise on election programs. That never happens in the Netherlands, where coalitions reign. The office also used September's economic forecast as a basis. This is now outdated, for example new forecasts have unemployment falling at a faster rate. It is also important to note that in the CPB calculations, investments in things such as education, environment and innovation produce little economic benefit, while they cost money.

The PVV, 50Plus and PvdD refused their party programs to the CPB. 

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