When reading through the international comments on the Dutch parliament elections there is an international and general sense of relief and even happiness. The movement of “extreme right populism” as it recently gained victories in the UK (Brexit referendum) and the USA (President Trump’s election) seems to have be put to a halt in The Netherlands. The main reason for this optimism was the small rise in seats for Geert Wilder’s PVV (Party for Freedom, from 15 to 20) where until recently explosive growth was expected. Wilders’ PVV is now the second party in the Netherlands after Mark Rutte’s VVD (Popular Democratic Party). Rutte’s VVD lost a small number of seats (8) yet remains the biggest party in the Netherlands.
So Wilders gained a few seats but his role in the political arena is over after yesterday’s election results. Rutte already indicated that a collaboration between his VVD and Wilders’ PVV would not be in question. In the Netherlands political parties have to seek collaborations to hold a majority (minimal 76 of the 150 seats) in the “Tweede Kamer” (the House of Parliament).
Wilders was remarkably absent in the recent campaign: a few TV shows, a few public appearances and not even a joint gathering of his PVV party members to watch the election results come in which is a common procedure for Dutch political parties. It is to guess why Wilders followed this strategy: did he think that social media would do for him what it had done for Trump? Where there issues surrounding his security? Or did he deliberately seek to fight his political arguments from the opposition ranks and was he scared his movement would become too big to handle? Although only Wilders himself could answer these questions, it becomes clear that Wilders will never lead a Dutch government administration. He is unfit to propose proper solutions for his sharp criticism of developments within Dutch society. He failed to bind influential figures of Dutch society to support his party and its policies.
The biggest loser yesterday was PvdA (The Labour Party). The party was decimated (from 38 to 9 seats) although it does not necessarily mean that its strong tentacles within the government, NGO’s and media now suddenly have disappeared. The seats that PvdA lost went to other left-wing and center parties like GroenLinks (Green Party), D66 (Democratic Party) and CDA (Christian Party). This means that PvdA lost its attractiveness to the voters, but it does not mean that their defeat will lead to radical changes in the political landscape.
So the conclusion is that the result of the election will be foremost a continuation of the status quo of Dutch “kartel parties” so called by new comer Forum voor Democratie (from 0 to 2 seats). ‘Kartel parties’ is the conglomerate of institutionalised parties that already reign over the Dutch politics in different combinations for many decades.
The large majority of the Dutch voters still seem to approve the current political situation. There is little interest in controversial subjects like abolishing the Euro or leaving the EU (Nexit). For now they seem to comfortably close their eyes for the big issues that sooner or later will be knocking at their doors: the high amounts of immigrants, the stability of the EU and Euro and last but not least, the internal stability of a segregated society where different populations hold their own ideas about their loyalty to the Netherlands. Last week events in the Netherlands surrounding the visit of Turkey’s ministers and the commotion it caused afterwards are strong indicators about the current state of things and what is likely to be expected to happen more intensively and more often in the near future.
Other election events in 2017 (Germany, France) will give further indicators if citizens of those EU countries wish to continue the current direction of their political leaders or whether they are already prepared for more dramatic measures.
Den Haag, 16 maart 2017