Elections_Netherlands_debate4On 15 March 2017, Dutch voters finally go to the polls. Against the backdrop of a diplomatic row with Turkey (which is engaged in its own electioneering ahead of a controversial constitutional referendum), the anti-Islam Party for Freedom (PVV) is predicted to do very well.

However, opinion polls have shown a slight slump in support for the PVV and its leader Geert Wilders, with the centre-right party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte fighting hard to remain the largest in parliament (though with perhaps half as many seats as it currently holds).

We had a comment from Joyce, who believes that Wilders will never get into power. She argues that no other party wants to go into coalition with him, so even though he is leading the polls he will be blocked from government. Is she right?

To get a response, we put this question to Henk te Velde, Professor of Dutch History at the Leiden University Institute for History.

Henk te VeldeYes, I think so. First of all, in the Netherlands there is always a coalition government. No party ever achieves a majority – far from it! And the problem at the moment seems to be that there are so many parties that are not very small, but not very large either. So, probably, after the next elections we will need four, or maybe even five parties to form a coalition government. And Geert Wilders, according to the polls, will get perhaps 30 seats in our parliament, which contains 150 seats. So, this will mean still a small minority – not even one-fifth of the vote, probably.

He will then need to form a coalition after the elections, but his views are so extreme that nobody wants to form a government together with him. You can even ask the question whether he himself really wants to be part of government, because he doesn’t do anything to make that feasible. You could imagine that he pretends to want to become the next Prime Minister, but I think this is all rhetoric.

To get another perspective, we also put Joyce’s comment to Tom van der Meer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam. Did he think the scenario sketched out by Joyce was a realistic one?

van-der-meerI would agree, to a very large extent. Indeed, the Freedom Party is very unlikely to get a majority of the vote, because no party has ever done so. Indeed, the largest party, historically, doesn’t have a right to become a member of the next government, let alone to get the next prime minister. That only applies if the party is in a strategic position to get a majority of the seats in parliament behind a potential coalition; and that’s not the case for the Freedom Party at this moment. Nearly all parties have excluded a collaboration with the Freedom Party as a possibility.

You might imagine one of the parties might change their position afterwards, but for a successful majority coalition, you would need four parties at least. And that’s not going to happen.

We also had a comment from Bobi, who thinks it is “funny” how mainstream left and right parties combine efforts against “nationalists”. He believes this can mean only one thing: there are no differences between centre-left and centre-right parties. Bobi believes this encourages people to vote for more extreme parties on the fringes.

Is he right? We put Bobi’s comment to Tom van der Meer for his reaction:

van-der-meer[…] There is a risk that if there is a broad centre government, where parties from the political left and right collaborate to form a common coalition, that leads to voters moving to the extremes of the party system to find an alternative. Basically, if the centre parties can’t create their own opposition and polarise between themselves, then disaffected voters will look to the fringes. In that sense, he’s right. The current coalition government is, from that perspective, quite problematic. There was no serious alternative in 2012 to this current government coalition, but because a left-wing and right-wing party that radically opposed each other during the campaign had to collaborate in government, it’s very difficult to get true opposition in parliament except from the fringes. And that’s what we see now.

Finally, we put Bobi’s comment to Sjaak Koenis, Professor of Social Philosophy at the University of Maastricht. What would he say?

s.koenis_Sjaak KoenisThere is a slight danger, of course, that if they team up against the PVV they are going to move closer to one another. But most parties try to emphasise clear differences between themselves and other mainstream parties. So, there is a slight danger, but I don’t think it’s going to be very substantial.

Should Dutch parties refuse to go into coalition with Geert Wilders? If centre-left and centre-right parties work to block Wilders from power, will it just increase his appeal? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC BY-SA – Peter van der Sluijs


71 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • Imanuel d'Anjou

      the man refuses to debate anyone or to communicate with anyone. even if the other parties were willing to deal with him, he makes it impossible. so yeah.

    • Bódis Kata

      BS. I just saw a short part of a debate with Wilders and the incumbent on Euronews.

  1. Stef Kostov

    So if the people democratically elect a certain party, the government will try to block it and not work with it. Why?

    • Imanuel d'Anjou

      the man refuses to debate anyone or to communicate with anyone. even if the other parties were willing to deal with him, he makes it impossible. so yeah. no space for conspiratorial thinking here.

    • Stef Kostov

      I just found multiple debates when he expresses his opinion openly, I don’t know why you wrote that he refuses to debate people?

    • Josh Cameron

      You forget that even if the far right gets the most votes among all parties, the vast majority of the country will still have voted for other non far right parties who they know will not cooperate with the lunatic

    • Malcolm Healey

      Because of all the opportunities offered to him to debate and offer opinions, he only does the bare minimum. He cancelled the majority of debates, besides the very last two, one of which was only one-on-one with the current PM.

      The guy is a coward and doesn’t like scrutiny, hence his “manifesto” being 1 A4 page long, literally containing the word “etc” without explaining what that entails.

  2. Rumy Milten

    No. If he wins they should work together. Political Egos are not welcome. It’s Democratic a election so people’s vote should be respected.

    • Darrell Mennie

      Less than a 1/5 is not the people. It is a minority. Stop conflating his support

    • Josh Cameron

      You forget that even if the far right gets the most votes among all parties, the vast majority of the country will still have voted for other non far right parties who they know will not cooperate with the lunatic

    • Rumy Milten

      That’s another reason they should work together …make sure he doesn’t get out of line.

    • Malcolm Healey

      Actually no, coalition based governance in the Netherlands. As long as the Government gets more than 76 seats, they can pick and choose who to work with, or who to exclude, because by definition they represent the majority.

  3. Rumy Milten

    No. If he wins they should work together. Political Egos are not welcome. It’s a Democratic election so people’s vote should be respected.

    • Rumy Milten

      That’s another reason why they should work together …make sure he doesn’t step out of line.

  4. Elie Awad

    Netherlands need people like wilders more than any time ,the world is based on balance so when u have people votes to Erdogan in the other side, the netherlands needs tough people to deal with the situation

    • Darrell Mennie

      Wilders is not tough. He runs from confrontation unless he can cry in court. He runs from doscourse and debate, rather just pomtificatimg to an echo chamber of his own supporters. He has no plans and not future outlook

    • Filipe Oliveira

      That is playing into their game. Bashing others does not make one stronger. Being prepared for all events is what strength means

    • Elie Awad

      He dare saying some truth not keeping the head low like other politicians .i dont see any sign of racism in his speech .there is a problem and we need to face it before its too late .

    • Sander Jansen

      We need basically anyone but Wilders for that. He hasnt made true on anything he’s promised. He talks tough, but doesnt act on it.

    • Elie Awad

      He didn’t win any election so how u want him to do something

    • Sylvia Wentink

      Thats your opinion Elie Awad, that people need more humans like wilders.. well, not me! I need someone who connects people and nòt someone who devides and let hate grow! Cause tháts the only he does. He only says whàt people want to hear, think! before naivly believe in what he ‘promisse’.

    • Elie Awad

      Sylvia i wish we could live in such world with no hate and no war ,but reality is different, reality prooved that some people hate and kill and vut heads and take sex slaves ,reality prooved that some people plan to harm and change and wipe cultures .sorry but peace never been free ,Europe was peaceful because of millions of sacrifices and brave people who defended freedom.its a cost and its better to deal with problem before it escalate into civil chaos and war .

    • Sylvia Wentink

      Yes but as long people vote for those who devide and spread hate things will only get worse im afraid..

    • Elie Awad

      But it will also worth if nothibg will be done ,we need something in the middle .i dont think we spread hate when we mention the people who are really doing it .i am totally against any form of racism or stupid nationalism but i am strongly a supporter to anyone who point his finger to the problems and name them so it can be a start to fix them

    • Darrell Mennie

      Elie Awad he loves the blame game, but fails to connect to a larger picture, Wilders does. Rather than look at the whys, he just lumps all of a culture and faith into one label and then sets fire to fears and hysteria. If he was serious he would have a global strategy to de-escalate all Involved EU and Dutch conflicts as well as help spearhead a viable immigration screening system that does not poach and raid the best of the best from developing nations( something that currently is done and helps perpetuates a cycle of poverty and war) No Wilders has no plan other than to appeal to short-sighted fears and non-sustainable planning through nationalistic nostalgia0. Alleviating these fears is a plan, and promoting the development of a National Identity as a culture so as to facilitate assimilation to the country is a good start, but you know, that would be embracing all people and looking for solutions, not division.

  5. Rui Estrela de Oliveira

    Of course not. Democratic systems, build around parlamentarism, are meant to allow governments in coalition so that each political force can find a way to keep the government ruling although with a negotiated agenda. Wilders shouldn’t be isolated. He must be kept inside the democratic game.

  6. Rumy Milten

    Muslims use our values (human rights, democracy, equality etc) against us. And our spineless, politically correct politicians not only allow it but encourage it. Enough!

    • Arjan van Eersel

      Интересно да чуя това от Българин. След муслиманите той ще изгони всички Българи, Руминци и Поляци, защото смята че крадът работата от Холандски работници. Уилдерс е Нидерландският Волен Сидеров, тоест простак с голяма уста, а без решения.

    • Arjan van Eersel

      Интересно да чуя това от Българин. След муслиманите той ще изгони всички Българи, Руминци и Поляци, защото смята че крадът работата от Холандски работници. Уилдерс е Нидерландският Волен Сидеров, тоест простак с голяма уста, а без решения.

  7. Eric Spaniol

    It is not on us to judge which government the Dutch party’s will form after the election.
    But if they want to defend European values, it is impossible to work with the PVV or Gerrt Wilders!

  8. Sander Jansen

    Yes. It is not only just the party’s decision, but also the decision of the members of those parties, as well as the people voting for these parties who have chosen to exclude the PVV from government. Saying it’s not democratic is nonsense, as it still considers all of the electorate.

  9. Andries Vienne

    It is every citizen’s democratic right to vote for the candidate of their choosing. It is every party’s democratic right to form a coalition of their choosing.

    • Rumy Milten

      Agree about the citizen democratic vote but don’t agree with the party part. Sometimes they have to work with the people (party) they don’t like if it’s in the country’s best interests. Political egos and games are not welcome.

    • Andries Vienne

      But in a parliamentary, particratic system (whether we want it or not) public intrest is defined differently by political parties – as is their right. The ‘country’s intrest’ is a political term, not a factual one.

  10. Jasper Maurice Oenema

    Simple answer: yes, because the electorate wants it that way. Furthermore, it has been done this way over the last 200 years. In other words: you are a bit late with your criticism

  11. Jean-Baptiste Perrin

    I believe that parties should not work in coalitions with parties that are fundamentally against their core values. Geert Wilders is against the core values of the other Dutch parties and thus they should not make coalitions with the PvV. That’s how democracy works.

    • Rumy Milten

      “Geert Wilders is against the core values of the other Dutch parties”….Parties? Who cares about the core value of the Parties. How about the core values of the Dutch as a nation?

    • Jean-Baptiste Perrin

      Rumy Milten I get your point, but that’s not the question. The question was whether the Dutch parties should make a coalition with the PvV or not. Since each party has their own values, that’s what they will/should use to make a decision, or they would betray their voters in an anti-democratic decision…

    • Malcolm Healey

      Rumy Milten
      The people express their values through their votes on parties as they have enough choice on a broad spectrum, including and not limited to, “the party for animals, 50Plus, Christian Union and the PVV (party for freedom)” as particularly obvious extreme examples of Dutch values.

  12. João Roque

    My view is simple. A politician is a reflection of the views of a segment of the population, when he’s not he ceases to be elected. Mr Wilders may be a deranged lunatic, but he addresses questions that people want addressed without demagoguery. it’s as much demagoguery to say islam is bad as putting our head in the sand and deny the evident correlation. So I believe Mr Wilders is just a symptom of an underlying problem regular politicians are too afraid to address

  13. Sylvia Wentink

    Thats your opinion Elie Awad, that people need more humans like wilders.. well, not me! I need someone who connects people and nòt someone who devides and let hate grow! Cause tháts the only he does. He only says whàt people want to hear, think! before naivly believe in what he ‘promisse’.

  14. Matej Mlinarič

    What do you even know about islam? Cause implementation of sharia law is holy duty for all muslims….. So it is to increase their populations and threaten with war. Those islamists are their soldiers that are willing to die as long they can take non-muslims with them. Cause to them that is only assurance they will go to heaven. Rest of muslims is either too scared of islamists or they are helping them just not to be first target in islamic jihad. There is no way to know for sure and unless you constantly risk your population you can’t have any mass islamic immigration….. The only way you can ever secure your country and that goes for those muslims as well that want to life in mutually contributing society is by removing those that will not comply with our laws. This will give you an perspective on many layers there are that needs to be addressed.

    https://www.facebook.com/812707315509772/videos/855173634596473/

    This one will explain how those islamic verses are interpreted so you will see even, if they are not islamists to pick up arms they are still trying to enforce their laws.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8c38_46W5c

    http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/articles/sharia.aspx

    https://www.facebook.com/155840847453/videos/10154519651587454/?hc_location=ufi

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6ePVxRLDM0

    So you know what EU you can start cooperating with dealing with a common threat or EU will disband especially, if one major country decide to leave.

  15. Tiago Boavida

    What the hell is happening with the hair of politicians these days?? Trump has a funny hair, this dutch fellow too. No one else noticed?? So politicians have no normal hair anymore?

    • Rosy Forlenza

      they used to have long horse bible thumping faces like Ian Paisley and Umberto Bossi Tiago, but i guess times have changed, obviously if you want to impress the people get a weird hairdo, worked in the uk and the u.s.

    • Tiago Boavida

      Yes! Boris Jonhson, i almost forgot!!

  16. Daniel Parvanov

    It should be right Dutch voters to speak tomorrow and then we decide what we think about about that no to try to tell them what to decide

  17. Blaz Bostjancic

    Sure cos he is a populist and he is just using people’s fears to get in to power. The 🇳🇱 has always been an open siciety. Their economy depends on open borders. But again, other political parties have to listen why people vote for such policy as him. He is insane he does not know what he is doing.

  18. Blaz Bostjancic

    Sure cos he is a populist and he is just using people’s fears to get in to power. The has always been an open siciety. Their economy depends on open borders. But again, other political parties have to listen why people vote for such policy as him. He is insane he does not know what he is doing.

    • Karolina

      Looks grey to me…

  19. Andrew Potts

    Western Politics is dangerously broken, there is a culture in education, media and the courts that behave as if they or on the outside and not part of the establishment, which they are. They rule by causes, they look for a cause and try to regulate it. No longer do they consider the society they were elected to represent. The emote and give half arguments and never consider the longer term effects of their decisions.
    They side with globalists in business and philosophy, not a great combination for representing European communities

  20. catherine benning

    Wilders should refuse to go into coalition with other parties.

  21. Karolina

    What sort of a question is this? It is down to them to decide.

  22. Belamie Versco

    I heard Wilders say he wants the Netherlands to quit the EU, because then they can control their own borders alone. All the populists argue with “uncontrollable immigration”. Instead, the EU should become more flexible and grant national member states the individual freedom they need. The EU motto United in Diversity clearly means to keep the diversity. The EU does not want all member states to give up their identity, but aims to integrate their diversity for the cooperative benefit of different cultures that all share the same European values.

  23. Jokera Jokerov

    Mr Wilders is half Indonesian. If they do not want him, they are disgusting bloody racists! :P

  24. johan stavers

    I think that the view that you should not prevent the possibility that in the future a majority might vote sharia into the laws of Europe is an extreme and very dangerous one. This view is either born out of ignorance, cowardness, nativity or maybe even the vile intent of a racist person that takes pleasure in seeing those that he is afraid are better than him fall.

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