The Dutch Decide

I feel some people may be getting a bit ahead of themselves regarding the election results in The Netherlands:

Dutch people rejected “the wrong kind of populism”, Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said, as he celebrated victory in Wednesday’s election.

“The Netherlands said ‘Whoa!'” he declared after his centre-right VVD party’s lead positioned him for a third successive term as prime minister.

French President Francois Hollande said he had won a “clear victory against extremism”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed a “very pro-European result, a clear signal… and a good day for democracy” and her chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, tweeted: “The Netherlands, oh the Netherlands you are a champion!”

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy praised Dutch voters for their “responsibility”

For sure, Geert Wilders didn’t win outright, and nor did his Freedom Party even come close to doing so, but they came second with a seat count of 20 up from 15, which is an increase of a third. The mistake I think people like Hollande and Merkel, and possibly even Rutte, are making is believing the policies of the Freedom Party have been overwhelmingly rejected and can safely be ignored from hereon.

They would do well to remember that the referendum on Brexit was brought about by a centre-right Conservative government which found itself under considerable pressure on the single issue of Europe by UKIP. In the previous UK general election, which took place in 2015, UKIP won a single seat on 12.7% of the vote (the third highest). The Tories trounced them on every measure, but were still concerned enough to promise a referendum on Europe. And we know how things went from there: despite nobody really voting for UKIP in massive numbers, plenty turned out to vote to leave the EU. And now it’s the Conservative’s job to pull Britain out, and nothing to do with UKIP or their erstwhile leader Nigel Farage.

Wilders’ Freedom Party has pulled in 13.1% of the vote, but that doesn’t tell the whole story: in order to limit the damage posed by Wilders, Rutte’s VVD party has had to lurch to the right in a similar way that the Tories in the UK had to agree to a referendum on the EU. True, Rutte could now backtrack on all his campaign rhetoric but – again as the Tories found out to their dismay – these are issues which don’t simply disappear because the head of a mainstream political party bullshitted his way through an election. There is a good chance that Wilders and his party could wither away, but that depends largely on how Rutte governs from hereon. And this is going to be interesting:

As parliamentary seats are allocated in exact proportion to a party’s vote share, the VVD will need to go into coalition with three other parties.

Mr Rutte has spoken of a “zero chance” of working with Mr Wilders’ PVV, and will look instead to the Christian Democrats and D66, which are both pro-EU.

So the Dutch political establishment is going to ignore a rather large and inconvenient chunk of the population who are het up about one or two rather key issues, and instead will attempt to continue with business as usual? Yeah, that’ll work out well.

We’ve seen this before, twice: the EU referendum was never supposed to happen, with all right-thinking political parties fully subscribed to the notion that membership of the EU was such an obvious benefit that it wasn’t even worth discussing. And then we had the referendum itself in which the entire political establishment voted one way while the population voted the other. Whoops.

Then there was the US Presidential Election which was supposed to be Hillary Clinton versus Jeb Bush arguing only over “approved” issues and utterly ignoring things like immigration, blue collar jobs, and abuse of government powers. Only things didn’t quite go according to plan, did they?

Just because the Netherlands avoided such an upset yesterday, that does not necessarily mean that the political establishment is not in its arrogance going to lay the very foundations for a populist revolt at some point in the future. Rutte and his pals may well ignore Wilders and his party, but they would do well to start listening to those who voted for him. I suspect I might be saying similar things about Marine Le Pen later on this year, too.

11 thoughts on “The Dutch Decide

  1. Francis,

    You appear to have written a better version of my post! Especially this:

    Moreover as the Speccie points out, Rutte and the VVD kept their lead by doing a hard U-turn on immigration and making comments and promises regarding policy that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

    That shifting of the Overton Window is something I should have emphasised more in my own post.

  2. I read something about turnouts of 100%, and polling stations having to send out for more voting forms.

    Ballot-stuffing is becoming a general habit.

  3. I understand that the Left loves ‘isms’ and thus hates such things as ‘the wrong sort of populism.’ But if you are going to subscribe to populism then why is unpopulism, its natural opposite, such a lovely idea to socialists? For reasons best known to wannabe-communists, something labelled with unpopulism is great.

    Oh sure, I get that there is the wrong sort of populism just as there is the wrong side of history and the wrong way of thinking 9all loved by the Left), but it still doesn’t work for me.

    In the meantime, I like that Germany is now hailing Netherlands as ‘champion.’ Not quite what their view of Rotterdam was some seventy-seven or so years ago.

  4. Wilders has probably improved his long-term position and, in all likelihood, will achieve more in opposition than he would in government.

    The Overton window effect, as you have pointed out.

    The EU and national governments still have not dealt properly with the floods of Africans and Asians massing at and crossing the borders. Erdogan will open the gates again and the anti-establishment, populist politicians will gain another 10%.

  5. One of the things a dutch mate of mine pointed out is that if your a dutch eurosceptic then theres a bit of a ” see what happens to the UK” mentality, why take a risk now on an unknown when you can wait 5 years and know.

  6. So despite the orchestrated pre-election protests in Rotterdam and the confirmation that Rutte and Merkel despite previous denials had indeed agreed to a secret migrant intake quota that will continue to change the European and Dutch demographic make up, it wasn’t enough. Yes as you say progress was made by the nationalists but there is still much work to be done to get through to the docile, dumb and spineless Dutch voters. This is indicative of all European voters.

    Put in context the Dutch election and any others european ones for that matter are insignificant in the overall scheme of things other than the French and the not yet scheduled UK elections. It’s all about how the all powerful UN P5 nations vote. I expect to see something now to happen to give Le Pen a boost in her election hopes. If she fails in her election bid then I think the UK election and UN reform will be put off until next year. If she wins then a snap UK election and some motion for reform in the UN will come to the fore.

  7. Surely, the biggest winner here is Erdogan and the Moslems settled in Holland.

    Erdogan “forced” Rutte to mouth a few bromides about Moslems in Holland when, at the same time, Rutte had already agreed in 2016 (with Erdogan) to further “refugee” settlement in the EU (at a rate of 250,000/year): an agreement from which he has not resiled and now doesn’t have to. Simultaneously, Erdogan got a big boost – or a boost anyway – with his electorates (in Turkey and in Holland) by talking tough to and about the Dutch.

    Also, “reality” now reasserts itself: the negotiations between the various parties will concentrate on the minutiae of coalition (who gets what? what don’t we have to deal with or, rather, what can we forget about?) thereby sidelining, in effect, the Moslem question. Sure, this question will arise at the next general election in a situation which – I guess – will be far worse (from standpoint of the indigenous Dutch) and more intractable but the tin has been kicked into the 2020s.

  8. “Sure, this question will arise at the next general election in a situation which – I guess – will be far worse”

    I think that this question will have been answered for the Dutch one way or the other before their next election. And from the standpoint of the indigenous Dutch then they got the government they elected, hence my veiled shot at them.

    This was a teaser and a tester before for the French election, the nationalists now know that they need to increase their voter appeal in what is shaping up as a French version of the US election, ringside ticket prices are climbing. Pre Fight entertainment level is ramping up with Fillon alienating voters, Macron been shown to be a globalist and Le Pen winning on both counts.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/13/emmanuel-macron-files-legal-complaint-anti-semitic-caricature/

  9. This is an interesting development. Ostensibly another boost for Le Pen or on the other hand maybe setting her up for a “it was the Russians wot won it” or tried to attack.

    Putin hosts French presidential contender Le Pen in Kremlin

    “We attach great importance to our relations with France, but at the same time we try to maintain equal relations both with the current authorities and with representatives of the opposition,” Putin told Le Pen at their meeting.

    “We do not want to influence events in any way, but we reserve the right to talk to representatives of all the country’s political forces, just as our partners in Europe and the United States do.”

    In an interview published this week in French daily Liberation, her opponent, Macron, said Le Pen had a “toxic” fascination with Russia.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-france-lepen-putin-idUSKBN16V1CP?il=0

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