Elections_Netherlands_debate5Is the ‘nationalist spring’ already over? Shock victories for the Brexit campaign and Donald Trump in 2016 seemed to mark a breakthrough for nationalist, populist politics. Supporters had hoped the narrative would continue, resulting in a victory for anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders in the Dutch elections. Voters, however, had other ideas.

In the run-up to the Dutch elections, opinion polls had consistently forecast Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) winning the largest number of seats. It would have represented a milestone in Dutch politics (though Wilders would have struggled to actually form a governing coalition). Instead, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s ruling VVD party won the most votes, projected to take 33 out of 150 seats.

The PVV is in second place, with 20 seats. That is is still a gain of five seats, but it is also less than the 24 seats the party won in the 2010 elections. Instead, the biggest winners of the night (besides the VVD) were the Green-Left party, which increased its number of seats by 10 to a historic high of 14. The Christian Democrats (CDA) and the liberal D66 party each took 19 seats.

The greatest defeat of the night was suffered by the Labour Party (PvdA). They lost an astonishing 29 seats, leaving them with just nine seats. They had previously gone into coalition with the VVD as junior partners and voters had apparently punished them for it.

Mark Rutte now faces the difficult task of cobbling together a coalition. He has previously ruled out relying on Geert Wilders for support (as he did in 2010), but it’s unclear if a stable coalition can be formed with less than five partners. Left-wing parties, in particular, might look at the experience of the PvdA as a warning not to join a VVD-led government.

Do the Dutch elections show the populist tide has turned? Are the results a victory for liberalism? Were expectations set too high for Geert Wilders? 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 / Flickr – European Parliament


156 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. catherine benning

    The Dutch election was as rigged as the Austrian.

    Either that, or the Dutch people are long term masochists. Cannot be other.

    • Karolina

      And usual, you have solid proof for your allegations, Catherine.

      Either that or you’re in desperate denial.

  2. Mike Chambers

    That is a dangerous thing to believe. This is only one election. We need to wait until the election in France.

    • Nikos Morenos

      Thats all for the press to bust peoples balls. Theres a 2nd round so Le Pen has no chance

    • Monique Taxhet

      I hope she doesn’t have a chance but given Brexit and Trump you never know.

    • João Machado

      Nikos Morenos, that’s exactly what they said about Brexit and Trump. Le Pen will easily win the first round, in the second one the French people might surprise us all. I sure hope they do. The radical reform of the EU is in their hands.

    • Uli Czeranka

      werent you talking yesterday about, how netherlands will leave the EU soon? but as long you are patient you can extend it without needing to adjust your beliefs i see.

    • Louis Jeffs

      Everything’s a matter of time.

    • Ivan Burrows

      Louis Jeffs .

      Correct, including the end of the EU.

  3. Paul X

    For the “winning” party to take 33 out of 150 seats is hardly a resounding endorsement and the fact the PVV increased their seats by 25% hardly indicates a decline in populism

    All the result confirms is how flawed the Dutch electorial system is in that five parties will need to go in coalition to form any sort of administration

  4. Bogdán Róbert

    Populist is a strange word. When used to describe economical policies, it sounds pretty bad. But when it describes the wish of the people to defend their culture, principles, religion, moral and ethic values, it’s actually conservatism at its best. So no, the tide will grow. Rational nationalism and patriotism are positive values. They can be perverted, but so can progressivism too.

    • Sasha Naronin

      I believe a politician can be a populist and a conservatist at the same time.
      A populist is a politician who says what people want to hear in order to get to power – but those are just words, he has neither means nor wish to make those empty promises come true.
      Oh, and I’ve never seen a rational nationalist. They all are to different degrees radicals and propose no constructive ideas.

    • Justinas Stankūnas

      If we’re going to defend our culture and religion get out of pagan lands then filthy christians

  5. Rosy Forlenza

    yes agree with bogdan it is being used for all sorts of parties that are actually quite different. grillo’s 5 star is not a racist party for example in the way wilders’ was. and is. i think we should call it the racist parties, but no i don’t think we can ever say that. part of the reason this has reared its ugly head is because people feel ignored and that things are out of control, so the Eu would do well address seriously, otherwise it will grow. We always have to have a bit of captain picard in us, if we don’t mind our democracies then no one will do it for us!

  6. David Coughlan

    There is populism that wants the end to neo liberal economic policies and there is the populism of racism. Populism is not the correct word. Wilders and Le Pen are nazis. Other movements, like Podemos in Spain, are for fairer economic and social policies.

  7. Alf Bme

    No, the tide has not turned. But the Europeans have reason to be grateful to Trump, without him behaving like Rumpelstiltskin the far right would have been less scary. Now the far right has to wait for the next occasion.

  8. Μάρκος Κουντουρούδας

    There is an Imminent Humanitarian Crisis in Greece with the E.U. “Punishing” Austerity Policies only to the South-E.U., and you’re talking about populism ? And why to celebrate Rutte’s defeat ? He took less votes and less seats, and you celebrate for getting from 26% to 20% ? R U Serious ? … Take Your Propaganda Away. And Populism distinguish to the positive and the negative one, but you can’t demonize Populism at large, as a whole, meaning go Against the People !

    • Monique Taxhet

      Sorry but those countries you.me tion wouldn’t be in any better shape outside the EU…quite the opposite actually as whatever the austerity policies are, all those countries are on the receiving end of the EU budget. Ie. Less money outside the EU.

    • Μάρκος Κουντουρούδας

      Great ! So…Let’s Split ! Take your “North-Western Union” and get along. Leave the rest of us in the South-East Europe to find our Way. I’m sure that We will be better Outside this Tyrannic-Racist “E.U.” and…don;t worry …Many will come outside “E.U.” to Support us !

    • Grammatiki Vogiatzi

      Well I understand the point from both sides… the solution needs deeper thinking… you are both correct as you analyse the facts…but your thoughts relay on facts that are not really true… sorry if you don’t agree with me… however think more… the issue is not that obvious!!! According to my opinion!!!

    • João Machado

      Monique Taxhet you’re very wrong. I saw the economical effects of the EU in my country. We received millions from the EU it’s true. In exchange for access to our fishing waters, for stopping to produce a vast array of food products and actually dismantle those industries, we saw our national sovereignty disappear, austerity came soon and engulfed the country in an economic caos with perverted social consequences. The money that my parents generation accepted from the EU was nothing but bribe money by a union of power, not a union of peace. We would be of better out of the EU. My country’s industry was dismantled in exchange for petty money. We are much more dependent now, much more fragile as an economy than we were before. So no, we are not better now, far from that. My country, such as Greece, Spain and Italy, need to get out. Go back to our own currencies, devaluate and recover. Mediterranean countries should have never joined the EU in the that place, but of course the imperialistic union made its best to convince our parents that this was the future. Well… How wrong they feel now watching their kids unemployed, having lower standards of living than themselves, and most of all, abandoning their countries in search for a better life. Good job EU.

    • Paul X

      @João Machado

      It could have been worse, the UK has paid billions into the EU as well as giving up access to our fishing waters…for that we have to blame the spineless politicians 40 years ago who wanted to get us into the EEC at any cost

    • Μάρκος Κουντουρούδας

      And don’t forget Joao, that a Mediterranean Union by the countries you mentioned, since they have many common Cultural origins and mentality, can Succeed Much and Further Better, than this “Pit” they condemned us. It’s the Culture and Mentality Gap that will tear apart this “E.U.”….

    • The Professor

      You are quite right.populism in a democratic society is the will of the people to look after the majority of the people not just the establishment.

  9. Charles Buhagiar

    No not at all. It’s just that Erdogan’s plan was successful. The immigrants’ vote and their high turnout, which was induced by the diplomatic row which he instigated just days before the elections, managed to curtail the swing in favour of the populous vote. Of course, we were too naive to realise what was the intent of the strange but timely game which Erdogan was playing. It’s all part of the long-term take-over strategy by the Muslim world

  10. Róbert Bogdán

    You’re right when you don’t trust politicians, especially the populist ones. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is a lie. Power over others lives and destinies tend to corrupt people. But be careful not to generalize, just because socialist and nazi propaganda used nationalism and patriotism to influence the masses, doesn’t mean this values are tainted. People died defending their way of life, their culture, it meant so much to them. It’s like freedom, you feel its importance only when you lose it.

  11. Clive Lansdale

    Sitback and watch Denmark go full on muslim and shariah law implemented now then, it’s obviously what the Dutch want.

  12. Konstantinos Tzoannopoulos

    Whoever thinks Rutte isn’t a populist is a blithering idiot. To win the election, Rutte adopted Wilders’ nationalist-populist rhetoric, full of racist and bigoted bile, wholesale. And he also embraced most of Wilders’ far-right agenda. Tell me again Rutte isn’t a populist now.

    • João Machado

      Turned? The winning party went down 10 seats and the right went up 4 seats. You call that a turn? Rutte only won because he adapted his politics to get closer to the right. He even took a stance on Erdogan. He would never do such things if it wasn’t for the presence of Wilders, who radically change the political scenario in the Netherlands. That alone shows the kind of politician Rutte is. Such a turn in the tide that to form a government now they have to make a coalition with literally all the other parties except Wilders to be able to have a majority.

    • Paul X

      If you so happy the tide has turned just exactly what is it you wish to go back to…elitist politicians all with the same liberal agenda totally ignoring the opinions of large percentages of the public who they are supposed to be accountable to?

  13. Albert Gomperts

    No I don’t think so. What this particular event shows is that a particularly blatant attempt at electoral manipulation by a foreign power (proxy for Russia) backfired, thanks to the steadfastness and statesmanlike response by the incumbent

  14. Erik Stevens

    never ever, FC left wing scumbags, social media must be stopped, it doesn’t meter how, it’s enough,

    • Linda Gothard

      unfortunately for you that won’t happen.

    • Margot Anne Marie

      A populist remark. Merkel is exactly where she needs to be.

    • Rogerio Coelho

      Well, that’s your opinion. In fact, Merkel is exactly where you want her. If that is good to EU or not, we have seen since 2015.
      You call me populist as i don’t agree with you, so i can call you intolerant as well.

    • João Machado

      Merkel will be booted out by the Germans in the next elections, easily… Hey popularity is lower than ever, go figure…

    • Rogerio Coelho

      As sondagens parecem animadoras para a chanceler. Não é bom para coesão europeia mas é politicamente incorrecto dizê-lo…

  15. Angel Caruana

    No, far from it! The fact that the populist party came second is already one bad result for the EU. Populism is on the rise and populist parties will continue to garner more votes in the coming elections if no concrete actions are taken!

  16. Margot Anne Marie

    It hasn’t turned, but with this result (a relief, in spite of a rightwing win), there is breathing room and reason hope (and push on) again.

  17. Matt

    The tide is turning and to hell with globalism. Nationalism is the way forward, hooray and it’s already happening

  18. Miguel Andrade

    as the second War was the reaction from the democratic world to free europe from the nazi assassins that preached nationalism.

  19. Belamie Versco

    The Dutch populist party ranks second biggest in the election result, getting more seats than last election, and you call that a turn of tide? Looks more like a growing factor in the debates to come….either the point of populism is addressed or it is going to crash in like Brexit did.

  20. Andre L

    Despite the wave of populism the Netherlands is definitely not a predominantly pretentious Country in this aspect. A people I loved to know first hand. Dutch politics is a politics of proximity, at least much more than here in the past. Despite this, I still think of what is still happening in the Euro Zone, ECB, Troika. We still walk in the resentment, the political crap. Here in Portugal after his disappearances incompetencies, cases of corruption, etc. They caused enormous ruptures in the economic system. Fortunately nowadays we are better, fortunately we are raising ourselves, Inheritance of such events. So at this moment on the Public bank, and one more problem that comes up from the citizens, Minister Schäuble, loose notes, indirect to Brussels, as if he were talking about us. :) funny .not. This has now changed here, I trust much more in the current Government than in certain LORDS of the Euro.

    This, gentlemen, is not populism. This is our reality, unlike excel sheets and graphs.

    If I were Dutch, I would vote for Mark Rutte without any doubt, and I would not have to complain about what happens elsewhere. Cheers

  21. Lino Bonnici

    Good choice for the Dutch people who stop the isolationists from taking over the

    national interests of the Netherlands.

  22. Tim Nick Knight

    The tide has done nothing. The EU has bought more time, as usual. They have not addressed the key underlying issues. If the EU does not start doing its job, then soon they will start winning outright.

  23. Rogerio Coelho

    As sondagens parecem animadoras para a chanceler. Não é bom para coesão europeia mas é politicamente incorrecto dizê-lo…

  24. nando

    No. It is only a sample of one!
    But it does show we can turn it around!
    And look at the rest of the seats. What does it tell you?

  25. Edgar Joycey

    Populism displays what it is. When people feel disadvantaged and abandoned, populism’s superficiality allows it to appeal to soften these feelings. People wanted to show their contempt for the ruling parties. The leaders of the populist parties could easily turn this contempt into support for them. Give the people what they want. There had not been wins by parties that used such populism. People had no experience of having such leaders or seeing them in action. So, for a while ‘the populist spring’ gained ground. We now have experience. The UK, influenced by the lies of UKIP, voted for BREXIT. The USA dumped for Trump. It has become clear that the shallowness of their campaigns have transferred to the shallowness of their actions. People have seen them for what they are. Bullshit. In practice, in the complexity of the world we live in, they can do nothing. After initial flourishes, they end up much the same as other parties. The just revert occasionally to their rhetoric and nonsense. The Dutch realised this in time. Unfortunately, the UK is being led down a road to disaster. Let’s hope the world is not going to go down such a road created by Trump.

  26. David Coughlan

    Populist is not the corect word. They are Nazis. A populist movement tends to be left wing, like Podemos in Spain.

  27. Siva Nesan Jesu

    There is no such thing as populist nationalism, and Holland is not the only field to gauge it. Reason will eventually overrun shameless submission to barbarous invasion from 620 AD.

  28. Viorika Motoi

    Nationalism is only reaction of free people to radical multiculturalism of liberal politicians.

    • Malcolm Healey

      Seeing as he was polling to be the largest, and ended with the VVD far ahead of him, as well as barely beating out the CDA and D66 its only a victory in absolute terms looking at seats.
      Relatively speaking its a terrible showing for Wilders who was polling to be the next PM

    • Debbie Jones

      Well I do believe he will get there eventually. The people will have enough of the way things are going

  29. Ivan Burrows

    .

    The Party for Freedom has only been around since 2006 & came second in the Dutch election while increasing its seats to 20 yet the left claim Wilders lost ?! lol

    It’s just a matter of time comrades.

    • Uwe Cramer

      In Belgium the have the same extreme right wing party. The came up in the nineties. Biggest party, no other party worked with them. The where just crying like Wilders unfair I wanted to be the biggest. Then the change there name, don`t help, people went away from them. Now the still in parliament but much less seats then in the nineties. So lets hope dick head Wilders will be gone soon. And Le Pen, AFD to. Austria and the Netherlands show the world we don`t want a second third Reich.

    • Ivan Burrows

      Uwe Cramer .

      You are comparing apples and pears comrade.

      You are right to mention history though as it does seem to keep repeating itself in Europe.

      Nazism, fascism, Communism and now Europeanism, only the colour of the flag really changes.

    • Erwin Kwakkel

      The PVV dropped from 15,4% in 2010 to 13,1% in 2017. 87% of the Dutch voters didn’t vote for Wilders. Wilders is overrated. And yes, he lost. Not because of the seats but because he made a face-off competition of the election. It’s not the left’s fault that he is a loser, it is his own. (by the way, the left also lost the election. Pro European and liberal parties have won)

    • Arnoud Heeres

      Wilders had 24 seats in 2010. In 2017, with all the hype, when it was supposed to happen, he came to 20 seats. Wilders lost big time. Even worse for him, the fact that Baudet made it to the Dutch parliament is bad news for Wilders as that guy may split the PVV eventually.

    • Arnoud Heeres

      And the left didn’t get crushed. Their votes are spread out over more parties. That’s all.

  30. Ivan Burrows

    .

    The Party for Freedom has only been around since 2006 & came second in the Dutch election while increasing its seats to 20 yet the left claim Wilders lost ?! lol

    It’s just a matter of time comrades.

  31. Γεώργιος Δανιηλίδης

    Τhere is not term populism.There is elitist tide that hurts european citizens hard.Elite hired politicians,media etc called populism the demands of european citizens against crooked elite

  32. Γεώργιος Δανιηλίδης

    Τhere is not term populism.There is elitist tide that hurts european citizens hard.Elite hired politicians,media etc called populism the demands of european citizens against crooked elite

  33. Andre Lopes

    Despite the wave of populism the Netherlands is definitely not a predominantly pretentious Country in this aspect. People I loved to know in first hand. Dutch politics is a politics of proximity, at least much more than here in the past. Despite this, I still think of what is still happening in the Euro Zone, ECB, Troika. We still walk in the resentment, the political CRAP. Here in Portugal after his disappearances incompetencies, cases of corruption, etc. They caused enormous ruptures in the economic system. Fortunately nowadays we are better, fortunately we are raising ourselves, Inheritance of such events. So at this moment on the Public bank, and one more problem that comes up from the citizens, Minister Schäuble, loose notes, indirect to Brussels, as if he were talking about us. :) funny .not. This has now changed here, I trust much more in the current Government than in certain LORDS of the Euro.

    This, gentlemen, is not populism. This is our reality, unlike excel sheets and graphs.

    If I were Dutch, I would vote for Mark Rutte without any doubt, and I would not have to complain about what happens elsewhere. Cheers

  34. Andre Lopes

    Despite the wave of populism the Netherlands is definitely not a predominantly pretentious Country in this aspect. People I loved to know in first hand. Dutch politics is a politics of proximity, at least much more than here in the past. Despite this, I still think of what is still happening in the Euro Zone, ECB, Troika. We still walk in the resentment, the political CRAP. Here in Portugal after his disappearances incompetencies, cases of corruption, etc. They caused enormous ruptures in the economic system. Fortunately nowadays we are better, fortunately we are raising ourselves, Inheritance of such events. So at this moment on the Public bank, and one more problem that comes up from the citizens, Minister Schäuble, loose notes, indirect to Brussels, as if he were talking about us. :) funny .not. This has now changed here, I trust much more in the current Government than in certain LORDS of the Euro.

    This, gentlemen, is not populism. This is our reality, unlike excel sheets and graphs.

    If I were Dutch, I would vote for Mark Rutte without any doubt, and I would not have to complain about what happens elsewhere. Cheers

  35. Savas Ozyurt

    NOOOO! You nuts. This guy here, the one on this picture, he’s the worst populist in the Netherlands. He runs a very corrupt party, they’ve been in all sorts of shitty deals with criminals, and Rutte wants to get out of the EU. He said so at Davos, after insulting Schulz.

  36. John Guri

    The PVV has now 20 seats in the dutch parliament, they ain’t going nowhere.

  37. Enric Mestres Girbal

    No, their voters are rising and probably the same will hapen in France, even though don’t reach the presidency. The EU is sliding down the hill and sooner then later will crash.

  38. Peter

    Please, can we not call these ethno ideologist parties ‘populist’? They do not speak for anybody but themselves – well, maybe anybody but their financiers.

    And no, Dutch election does not mark a tide turning in the growth of very diverse nationalist movements across the Western World. I wonder what is the intention of Americans Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz in financing Wilders.

  39. Peter

    An encouraging development is that greens, left liberals and christian democrats each won more votes than the nationalists.

    Loss of trust in governing parties is comprehensible to some degree because of budget cuts, but more than 19 percentage points loss for labour is astonishing! How could that happen?

  40. Daniel Parvanov

    Populism is not ideology it is a strategy to get elected by giving people what they want… Power back from the establishment …

  41. catherine benning

    How can you be so deluded that you take losing seats and voters by the so called leading party, a turning tide for that ideology?

    Wilders won more votes than he had prior to this Dutch election, the other guy lost more votes than he already had. That has to be construed as the tide turning ‘toward’ populism, if that is what you persist on calling the will of the people.

    So yes, the populist tide has turned for Geert Wilders not against him. The other guy, Rutte, lost seats, he did not gain anything. He is a lame duck.

  42. eusebio manuel vestias pecurto vestias

    Comgratulations Liberalism in European

  43. Karolina

    Let’s be honest, nobody wants to be in the UK’s position right now. The Brits on here might be in a triumphant mood but the rest of us who have not lived on an island all our lives are really relieved we are not in their situation…

    • Paul X

      That’s your opinion Karolina but I suggest you don’t pretend you speak for everyone in Europe. I’m sure there are plenty of people throughout the EU that would like the opportunity to express an opinion at the at the ballot box

      …and far from triumphant the majority of UK people are realists, we know there are risks and the whole thing could go really bad or it could be the best thing we’ve ever done. But at the end of the day the one certainty was that the EU-UK relationship could not continue as it was, and as the EU was clearly never going to change (arrogant belief that they can do no wrong and that no country would dare leave) we were really only left with one option

  44. Tiago Miranda

    That’s exactly it. Just look at Trump and the American Health Care Act. The president doesn’t want to have his name associated with the bill because it totally goes agains’t what Trump said in his campaign. He might be a big bigot but he isn’t THAT stupid!

  45. Max Berre

    IMO, it demonstrated that Putin will have a more difficult time with electoral systems based on parliamentary coalitions

    • Robin Barendsen

      Why? PVV was mostly funded by american coorporations. Theres no proof of russian interference

    • Max Berre

      Yes, according to public disclosures, that is the nature of the financial link. In NL, the main concern with Russia was about hacking. According to politico, AIVD identified a concerted Russian effort to use hackers ahead of the election. Concerns over Russian hacking caused votes to be counted manually in NL, apparently.

      Foreign Affairs has also written something, but it’s behind a paywall, so I can’t see what’s written there.

    • Alex van Andel

      Votes are always counted manually in NL.., and yeah, russian hackers are involved in everything.

    • Robin Barendsen

      Well, the voted are counted manually at the voting stations, but the total for every voting station is usually added up digitally. This time that didn’t happen because there was “evidence that outside forces, like russia, might want to interfere”.

      Evidence of the chance of them maybe doing something doesn’t sound too evidency.

    • Alex van Andel

      Robin Barendsen So basically, the NSA said to the AIVD: “Hi, we said they hacked us, please say you’ve got evidence too to make us seem more believable”

    • Max Berre

      Robin Barendsen That depends who you ask. I noticed that Bert Koenders was quoted exactly to the effect in several articles dating to January 2017.

    • Robin Barendsen

      That was a direct quote from Bert Koenders, albeit translated.

  46. Jan Verloop

    Dutch elections show that most Dutch people can’t think straight. The party of the greatest liar of our country has won.

  47. eusebio manuel vestias pecurto vestias

    I am European If you are against the current globalists social liberal mainstream in the EU and the EUA is a victim of the manipulation of the Russian media

  48. Cliff Wilson

    Beware of elections. In Britain people voted at elections with only a mention of leaving the EU in a few of the Party Manifestos. When the issue was put before them it was found to be a major issue that Politicians in general were either unaware of or ignoring. Elections give a false idea of the feelings of people generally.

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