No European country is as dependent on foreign trade as the Netherlands. And a good image abroad makes it easier to do business. Over the past year and a half, the Netherlands' image has been dented by controversy over some of the policies of the minority cabinet that governed with parliamentary support from Geert Wilders' Freedom Party.
The Netherlands caused controversy in Brussels, for instance, on a number of issues. For example, it was the only nation that opposed the entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen zone, which guarantees freedom of movement within the EU. The Dutch were also the only ones who wanted stricter immigration rules. And then there was the Freedom Party's special hotline to report problems involving Poles and other Eastern Europeans living in the Netherlands.
One of the conclusions that several parties have drawn from this 18-month political experiment is that if the Freedom Party were again included in a coalition government, Holland's image abroad could be damaged further.