What the Dutch elections are already teaching us

What the Dutch elections are already teaching us

Geminello Alvi | Columnist and writer
With the results of the Dutch elections, the scenario of the French elections will be better outlined: the Rutte-Wilder race essentially runs along the same lines to that of Fillon-LePen

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An article in Neue Zuercher Zeitung on March 7 outlined the political effects of the Dutch elections: the financial market would only see, in the Dutch elections, a test to better define the outcome of the French elections. Bloomberg, among others, the day before, reported the most recent election forecasts that have seen a fall in the number of seats of Wilders’ Party from 29 to 25 in one week. It emphasized, specifically, the refusal, by Conservative Prime Minister Rutte – to whom the polls give approximately the same number of seats - to collaborate with him. Rutte’s political agenda appears the most consistent of them all to a five-party coalition government, the constitution of which has, however, proven laborious. But the fact remains that Wilders has changed the agenda of the entire Dutch politics, and not only due to the fact that, in the previous term, his party gained only 15 seats out of 150. However, the rationality of the statement he released last Saturday must be acknowledged: ''We have basically already won the elections, before they have even started, because everyone is moving towards us and the discussions are on our agenda''. Prime Minister Rutte, who is in fact Wilders’ counterpart, several weeks ago, wrote an open letter calling on those who do not wish to integrate and, therefore, accept the values of our community, to return to their country. In Germany, for example, in Die Welt on March 4, emphasis was made on the statement in which Rutte defined Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu’s visit to Holland the following day as ''unwelcomed''. The collapse of the Labor Party to 10 seats in the polls, twenty-eight fewer than in the previous elections, is also symptomatic. Eelco Harteveld from the University of Amsterdam confirms this scenario: ''...Wilders has had the greatest impact on our country: he forced the moderate center-right and also, to some extent, the moderate center-left, to take a nationalist direction. Rutte’s open letter, in effect, helped the Prime Minister to attract many votes from the right intended for Wilders''. Regarding the possibility of an alliance between the two, Harteveld also explains that: ''All major parties have publicly said that they do not want to collaborate with Wilders. Rutte’s case is special, because, in the past, he left this option open, such that he allied with Wilders between 2010 and 2012. However, although this year he broke his promise not to enter into a new agreement, the two parties combined will hardly gain a majority in Parliament''. He too, therefore, predicts a five-party coalition government after the elections, a theory also rendered plausible by the electoral system, which is a purely proportional representation, with a symbolic barrier at 0.67%.

The potential impact on Europe

In conclusion, it can be said that, first and foremost, the outcome of the Dutch elections will not have a significant impact on the euro or on Europe, in a similar way to Brexit. It cannot be ruled out, however, despite the latest polls, that, in the end, Wilders’ votes may surpass those of Rutte, given the latter’s unconventional type of campaign, and the failure of the polls in both the UK and the United States. However, the large majority of the Dutch disagrees with the line of separation from the euro and from Europe, namely from Germany, as advocated by Wilders. However, with the results of the Dutch elections, the scenario of the French elections will be better outlined: after all the Rutte-Wilder race runs along the same lines as that of Fillon-LePen. Wilder’s success in changing the agenda of Dutch politics is, however, already a symptom that the growth of the isolationist far right against globalization continues. The Dutch situation provides an understanding of the ability with which this new right is using the changes in communication. Geert Wilders is the leader, in fact, of a virtual party, preaching exit from the European Union and announcing his intention to ban the Koran via Twitter. Moreover, he rarely appears in public after he was ousted by the Liberals in 2004, who criticized the anti-Islam positions he had embraced since 2002, the year in which Pim Fortuyn was killed. Having joined the police protection program, he has been living, since then, under guard, avoiding repeated overnight stays in the same place and transferring his presence on the internet. From here, the myth was founded: he has become a symbol in the new media of the fight against Islam and for the freedom of the Dutch people. Threatened with death, but in the full mobility guaranteed by the internet, he has built his media success, and has become capable of leading, like no one else in the Netherlands, the political trends, sensing the mood of the electorate, and crushing the traditional politics of that nation, with cold calculation. More so than Grillo and Trump, he can be said to be the prototype of the new politics.