An in-depth analysis of the Dutch general elections of 2017, by Ignyaz Degtyarov.
Elections for the Dutch House of Representatives will be held on Wednesday, March 15. The Netherlands is a significantly smaller player on the European political field than France or Germany. Still, should the so-called ‘populist wave’ (the rise of political parties sceptical of the EU, immigration and the political establishment) also sweep the Netherlands, this sweep would spell trouble for the administrative elite of the European Union, and for the globalist, neoliberal worldview the EU preaches from its bulwarks in Brussels and Strasbourg.
Geert Wilders with his wife on Prinsjesdag, 2014.
Riding the top of this populist wave is Geert Wilders, who at the head of the PVV (Freedom Party) has fully embraced his role of anti-establishment candidate. Since Wilders is an anti-Islamic eurosceptic who is shunned by the political establishment, it is tempting to view him as a Dutch Trump. By cancelling television debates and using Twitter to bypass the mainstream media, the PVV leader is consciously trying to live up to that comparison. And not without success: his soundbites, tweets and videos circulate in conservative and alt-right circles on Twitter and Facebook, where he is now heralded as one of the saviours of Western civilisation alongside Trump.
Should Wilders emerge from the elections as the Netherlands’ new prime minister, his victory would indeed be another blow to the pro-EU, pro-immigration establishment of European politics.
A win for the Eurosceptical parties would not be the first time the Dutch electorate had put the EU into hot water. In 2005, in a consultative referendum, a resounding 61.5% of Dutch voters rejected the proposition for a European Constitution. Last year, 61.1% of those who came out to vote in a new EU-themed referendum said ‘no’ to an association agreement with Ukraine. In both cases, the Dutch government and the EU were able to circumvent or even outright ignore the results. Now, however, with the ever-growing voice of Euroscepticism in Dutch politics, as well as the fresh experience with Brexit, the pro-EU camp cannot afford to wait until the problem solves itself.
Still, what many foreign media outlets (such as Express and Sky News) fail to realise is that, even if the PVV wins the elections, a PVV victory is far from a guarantee that Wilders will become Holland’s next prime minister. The Low Countries’ scattered political landscape has created a culture of co-operation and compromise, an obligation that could be the perpetual outsider’s undoing.
Let us therefore take a more careful look at Dutch politics, the role and nature of Wilders’s party, and the European and geopolitical implications of his ideology.