Dutch Elections: Another Repudiation of Rightwing Populism

Karel Ludenhoff

Summary: Dutch elections repudiate populist Right and show gains by anti-populist left-of-centre parties, with the exception of the social democrats, who were discredited by their neoliberal policies — Editors

The Dutch elections for the Lower Chamber of Parliament on March 15th turned out to give no leg up toward the breakthrough of rightwing populists in Western Europe. Although hopes in these rightwing circles were running high, the populist party of Geert Wilders, the PVV, with its fierce xenophobic and nationalist notions, did not succeed in becoming the strongest party. After the defeat of the rightwing populists in Austria in the presidential election of December 2016, this is a windfall for humanly thinking people in and outside Europe.

A small ray of hope, moreover, in the stream of anti-populism in the Netherlands was the winning of 10 mandates by the Green Left Party (it had 4), of 3 mandates by the Party for Animals (it had 2) and of 7 mandates by the Democrats 66 party (it had 12).

The PVV gained 5 more mandates (it already had 15), but is well behind VVD, the liberal party of the present prime minister, Mark Rutte, which achieved 33 mandates and is losing 8 mandates, but still is the biggest party.

The Dutch government consisted of two parties: the just mentioned VVD and the traditional social democrats, the PvdA. This last party lost 29 (!) mandates, has now 9 mandates, and is paying the bill for its long embrace of neoliberalism.

To get a little bit of an impression of the political landscape of the parties in the Netherlands at this moment you have to know that in these elections 28 parties participated and after the elections 13 parties are represented in parliament. At stake in these elections were 150 mandates. The government coalition, which had 79 mandates, lost 37.

One can interpret this loss in another way as a repudiation of the policy of this government. The policy, that the government called reform in and of Dutch society, actually was destruction of the living conditions of lots of people and was the breeding ground for the strengthening of rightwing populism in the PVV and more or less strong reflections of it outside this party in other right and centre parties. The policy of destruction of the living conditions is no surprise when we see that a lot of the parties on the Right and in the Centre have close connections to national and international Dutch firms. As to the latter, we can list firms like Shell, Unilever and AkzoNobel.

So, for a real assessment of the political weight of these parties one has to be wide awake to the operating of these connections. It is well known on all sides in this context, for example, that representatives of these kinds of firms and of the financial world in the Netherlands often turned out to co-write laws with ministries.

About these connections, which exist in the area of the politics and economics and which have a great influence on the living conditions of many people, we do not hear one word from Wilders and his cronies, not one word we do hear about tax avoidance by big firms. It will be clear that the powers of the status quo, including their pundits, have no problem with his silence in these areas and that his criminalizing of Muslim people, especially of Syrian and African refugees, and his overall xenophobia are a welcome diversion in the interests of the Dutch bourgeoisie, because this bourgeoisie is one of the forces which is contributing to the origin of the development of streams of refugees. The Dutch international oriented bourgeoisie in their hunt for profits is, however, less pleased about Wilders’s nationalist notions turned against the European Union.



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