Better news from Holland, but too soon to call the end of Europe’s uncertainty

By Alec Hogg

The establishment has welcomed the results of the election in the Netherlands. Some are trumpeting the beginning of the end of populism – that the Dutch have seen Brexit and Trump and turned away from it.

Mark Rutte, Dutch prime minister and leader of the Liberal Party (VVD), gestures to his supporters as he leaves a party rally after his address in The Hague. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Those hopes are premature. Holland’s centre right Liberal party, the apparent voice of reason, lost a quarter of the seats won five years ago. Its far right anti-Muslim challenger gained significantly on 2012. The swing might have been more moderate than feared, but still reflects a worrying trend.

Europe’s next bellwether comes in France next month, where far right candidate Marine le Pen fancies her chances of becoming President – and starting the road towards Frexit. Then there’s the prospect of something similar in Italy. Followed by a tense German vote in September.

Uncertainty in Europe is weighing heavily on the Union’s currency just like Brexit is hurting the Sterling. Against that, SA’s depressing reality of a stagnant economy and high unemployment is a known. Hence, paradoxically, the recent strength of the Rand. Which proves once again that investors hate uncertainty more than anything else.

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