Parliamentary elections were held in the Netherlands on March 15. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal VVD placed first with 33 out of 150 seats. The social democratic Labor Party suffered an historic defeat, going down from 38 to nine seats.
Open Europe’s Vincenzo Scarpetta has called it the PASOK-ization of the Dutch Labor Party. In an historic defeat on Wednesday, the social democrats went down from 25 to 6 percent support, reducing them from the second to the seventh largest party in parliament.
The Greens and far-left Socialists, long Labor’s smaller siblings on the left, did better, winning 9 percent support each.
The result was not unexpected. Labor’s popularity fell when it formed a coalition government with the right in 2012 and never recovered.
The choice it now faces is the same for social democrats elsewhere: either attempt to lure back traditional working-class and migrant voters with an economically more populist program or double down on center-left politics that appeal to the socially progressive middle class. Read more “Dilemma for Dutch Social Democrats After Historic Defeat”
Center-right parties are expected to dominate the next coalition government in the Netherlands.
If the exit poll released on Wednesday night turns out to be correct, the ruling liberal party of Mark Rutte would come close to finding a majority in the next parliament with the likeminded liberal Democrats and Christian Democrats.
International coverage of Mark Rutte’s reelection campaign in the Netherlands has largely emphasized the ways in which he emulates Geert Wilders.
This report from The New York Times is a typical example. It claims the liberal premier has taken a “Trump-like turn” in the face of a “hard-right challenge”, siding with the “silent majority” in his country against non-natives.
It’s a little over the top but not altogether wrong. Rutte’s center-right party has adopted more repressive immigration and integration policies. It has also become more Euroskeptic since Wilders started out a decade ago.
Two days before parliamentary elections, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has reiterated his opposition to a pact with the nationalist Freedom Party, telling Geert Wilders in person that the two will “never” work together again.
Earlier on Monday, Rutte urged voters not to let the Netherlands become the “third domino” that falls to populism after Britain voted to leave the European Union and America elected Donald Trump.
The absence of a serious manifesto did not suggest that the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders had any intention of governing after the election on Wednesday. Now two former elected officials of his Freedom Party have confirmed that he isn’t interested in power — especially the responsibility that comes with it.
Jhim van Bemmel, who sat in parliament from 2010 to 2012, told the broadcaster Human that Wilders pulled out of accord with center-right parties that year for fear of losing popularity.
For two years, Wilders had supported a minority government led by his center-right rival, Mark Rutte. He walked out when the ruling parties proposed more austerity.
Wilders to this day maintains that he quit in order to protect pensioners from cuts. Van Bemmel disputed that assertion as “total nonsense”.