Following the results of last March 15 in the Netherlands, parliamentary elections, the ruling right-wing liberal people’s party for freedom and democracy (VVD) has retained its status as the leading political force of the country. According to preliminary data, it is gaining more than 21% of the vote, enabling it to form the largest fraction (33 mandates) in the 150-seat House of representatives.
“After the referendum on Brexit and the US elections, the Netherlands said their “no” to the populists, said at a victory rally, the Prime Minister and party leader mark Rutte. — Today we celebrate the triumph of democracy. Across the country we saw queues of people at polling stations. When was the last time was?”
The turnout in the elections was high: it was 80.4%. The last time the same figure was recorded in the elections of 2006, slightly below the high of 1986 at 85.8%.
Second place was taken by the right-wing freedom Party (PVV) headed by Geert Wilders. She received about 13% of the votes that promises her 20 seats in Parliament. This is significantly below expectations. On election night itself Wilders admitted defeat, stressing that the outcome of the vote is only a temporary setback: “Our impact has been huge. Patriotic spring has just begun.”
Overall there were 28 parties, the entrance barrier of 0.67% of the vote overcame a 13.
The nationalists have improved the result
In the previous parliamentary elections of 2012, the main struggle was between the VVD, headed by Rutte and the social Democrats of the labour Party. Party Rutte then scored 26% of votes and got 41 place in Parliament, the second place was taken by the labour Party (24%, 38 seats). They created the ruling coalition and approved Rutte Prime Minister. For the PVV of Wilders voted 10% of voters (15 seats in Parliament).
With the growth of nationalist sentiment in Europe, the party of eurosceptic and anti-immigration Wilders has strengthened its position, especially against the backdrop of last year’s referendum on Brexit, the victory of Donald trump in the presidential election in the United States, and in April the Dutch referendum on Association of Ukraine and EU, which account for 61.1% of the electorate voted against ratification of the agreement (the turnout was 32%). Experts called the results of the protest vote of the nationalists. Wilders himself called it “the beginning of the end of the EU.” Wilders promised to hold a plebiscite on the question of an exit of the Netherlands from the EU. “Look at the chaos that emerged after the British exit from the EU and the US elections, it is important to prevent this we” — he answered Rutte (quoted by Bloomberg).
In the election campaign of the party of Wilders was the main rival of the party of Rutte. According to public opinion polls Peil of 12 March, two parties were almost equal. For the party of Wilders were ready to vote 15% of voters, for the party Rutte — 16%. The popularity of the left Party of labour is rapidly falling, the polls were showing. According to preliminary results of voting, she will receive 5.7% of the vote and nine seats in the House of representatives.
A possible victory of the party of Wilders have raised concerns in the Netherlands and other European countries. According to Rutte, this could lead to the fact that in other countries of Europe, primarily in France, Germany and Italy — right parties would get benefit in elections.
Wilders participates in the political life of the Netherlands for a long time, the Dutch have become accustomed to his rhetoric and realized that he had no solutions to European problems, explained final modest result of Wilders at the conference of the discussion club “Valdai” in Moscow, Tony van der Togt, senior research fellow Netherlands Institute of international relations Clingendael. One of the factors of loss Wilders was the election of Donald trump in the USA, the expert believes: the Dutch did not want to have their own “trump”.
The long road to government
On the eve of elections, Prime Minister Rutte has ruled out the possibility of a coalition with the party of Wilders.
Will need at least four parties to form a majority coalition in Parliament, said Tony van der Togt of the Netherlands Institute of international relations Clingendael. The formation of a coalition will be difficult because of the contradictions on a number of issues — for example, “Democrats-66” for the legalization of euthanasia, and the Christian party is against. The formation of the unit will take several months, experts predict.
The President of Russia Vladimir Putin was “very candid” and “very productive” contacts with Prime Minister Rutte, said the press Secretary of the President Dmitry Peskov. “If it so happens that Mr Rutte will continue to lead the government, then in the future they probably will be able to continue the dialogue”, — said Peskov (quoted by “Interfax”).
“Victory against extremism”
The defeat of the nationalists cheered moderate European politicians. Outgoing French President Francois Hollande has called the election results “a victory against extremism,” stressing the importance of openness and mutual respect and the fight against nationalism and isolationism. “It was a good day for democracy,” responded the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel. According to her, the high turnout provided a Pro-European result.
In an optimistic vein, he expressed Matteo Salvini, leader of the Italian far-right “Northern League”, an associate of Wilders and Le Pen on the right-wing faction “Europe of Nations and freedoms” in the European Parliament. He drew attention to the growing support of the freedom party of 10 to 13%, explaining the spread of nationalism “change Europe, saving jobs and inhibition of the invasion of migrants”.
France and Germany this year there will be presidential and parliamentary elections respectively. According to most polls, in France in the first round of the victory of the ally of Wilders, leader of the far-right National front, marine Le Pen. However, in the second round, sociologists say, it will give way to a more moderate candidate. The Le Pen has not commented on the result of the Dutch elections.
In Germany, according to polls, the leader of the CDU, led by Merkel, and the position of the ultra-conservatives-from eurosceptics “Alternative for Germany” weakened: according to Forsa, March 15, for the party is ready to vote 9% of Germans, while in January the figure was 12%. Parliamentary elections in Germany will take place in September 2017.
As stated by The New York Times, the scientist, Utrecht University mark Bovens election campaign in the Netherlands has become an example of how moderate the “traditional” party intercept part of the nationalist agenda of the radicals. In addition, the political scientist, the party of Wilders got less mandates than during the 2010 elections (when the nationalists held to the lower house, 25 members).
Marine Le Pen and the “Alternative for Germany” planned to exploit the theme of the victory of Wilders, says van der Togt. A surge of populism in Europe is a reaction to a very serious social problems, however, the popularity of right-wing will inevitably subside, will be replaced by a new party, which, however, can adopt some of the slogans of the populists, says the research Director of the International discussion club “Valdai” Fyodor Lukyanov.
Skeptical of the results of the elections reacted Ankara. In recent days, relations between the Netherlands and Turkey spoiled a major diplomatic crisis. Thursday, commenting on the results of the Dutch elections, the Prime Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu told the Anadolu Agency that the Dutch society is split, leading the party gained only 10 to 20% of the votes, and “there is no difference in the mentality of social Democrats and fascist Wilders”. Cavusoglu predicts Europe’s “fall into the abyss” and “the beginning of religious wars.”