– This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on March 15, Wednesday.
Welcome to CNBC Business Daily, I'm Qian Chen.
Europe is facing a full political calendar in 2017 and fears are rising that the upcoming elections could follow last year's trends of Brexit and President Donald Trump and take a turn towards populism.
CNBC takes a look at the economies and politics of the big election battlegrounds of France, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany - and which country could be hurt the most if a populist head of state wins at the ballot box.
The Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy have all followed a similar trend in terms of economic growth since 2008, but with Netherlands and Germany performing better than the other two countries, data from the Eurostat has shown.
In fact, the Netherlands grew at a fastest pace than Germany in both 2015 and 2016. Nonetheless, Germany is by far Europe's biggest economy, with an annual gross domestic product (GDP) of about 3.1 trillion euros ($3.3 trillion) compared to the Netherlands which stands at about 696 billion euros, according to provisional 2016 data from the Eurostat.
Looking at the unemployment rate, the situation is worse in Italy. The rate has been significantly higher since 2011 compared with the other three countries. In 2015, 11.9 percent of the Italian population was unemployed, compared to 10.4 percent in France, 6.9 percent in the Netherlands and 4.6 percent in Germany.
Looking at public debt, and how much each government has spent on social protection benefits (which include healthcare, unemployment and housing, among others) the Netherlands has also outperformed the other three countries. Its debt stood at 65.1 percent of GDP in 2015, compared to 132.3 percent of GDP in Italy, data from the Eurostat showed.
These economic indicators all show that Germany and Netherland have better economic growth than the other two countries, which might perform more poorly in economic terms that the risks of an economic slowdown are the highest if a populist leader came to power, according to Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING.
"Particularly, the Netherlands have implemented a lot of structural reforms which should enable the economy to grow in the coming years," he explained. "Theoretically, the two countries which are performing best (the Netherlands and Germany) would have less problems coping with the economic policies of populists as long as they are mainly directed at social transfers and more government spending."
However, despite the stronger economic positions of Germany and the Netherlands, they are not totally safe.
The bad news is that all four countries face considerable risks both at home (in the form of elections) and abroad.
And we still do not know how Brexit is going to play out, whether the Trump boom will turn into a bubble that pops, and what will be the impact of a change in international attitudes toward the free movement of goods and services.
CNBC's Qian Chen, reporting from Singapore.