Dilemma for Dutch Social Democrats After Historic Defeat

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”

Election Reveals Educational Divide in Netherlands

Amsterdam Netherlands
Aerial view of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, October 9, 2008 (Sebastiaan ter Burg)

Liberal Democrat and Green party voters in the Netherlands are more educated than supporters of the nationalist Freedom Party and far-left Socialists.

An Ipsos exit poll found that 58 and 55 percent of liberal Democrats and Greens, respectively, have graduated from college. Only 15 and 18 percent of Freedom and Socialist Party voters have.

The findings, while not surprising, underline that these four parties represent extremes in the Netherlands’ . Read more “Election Reveals Educational Divide in Netherlands”

Center-Right Parties Expected to Form Government in Netherlands

The Hague Netherlands
Dutch government buildings in The Hague, January 22, 2015 (Unsplash/Daria Nepriakhina)

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.

The three are projected to win 69 seats. 76 are needed for a majority. Read more “Center-Right Parties Expected to Form Government in Netherlands”

Dutch Mainstream Defeats Populist Geert Wilders

  • Prime Minister Mark Rutte won parliamentary elections in the Netherlands on Wednesday. Preliminary results put his liberal VVD in the lead to form the next government.
  • The Christian Democrats (CDA), left-liberal D66 and nationalist Freedom Party (PVV) would share second place.
  • The Greens have overtaken Labor as the largest party on the left.
  • Given that all major parties have ruled out a pact with the Freedom Party, a coalition of four or five parties is likely to be formed in the center.
  • Turnout was 80 percent, the highest in three decades. Read more “Dutch Mainstream Defeats Populist Geert Wilders”

Optimist Rutte Asks Dutch to Reject Rival’s Pessimism

Mark Rutte
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte arrives in Brussels to meet with other European leaders, February 12, 2015 (European Council)

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.

But it’s not the whole story. Read more “Optimist Rutte Asks Dutch to Reject Rival’s Pessimism”

Four Parties Vie for First Place in Dutch Election

The Hague Netherlands
Aerial view of Dutch government offices and parliament buildings in The Hague (Tweede Kamer)

Four parties are vying to become the single largest in the Netherlands’ election on Wednesday.

The latest average of polls puts Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberals in first place with 16 to 18 percent support.

But the Christian Democrats, liberal Democrats and nationalist Freedom Party are not far behind. Each would get between 12 and 14 percent.

If the polls are off by a few points, one of those three parties could come out on top. Read more “Four Parties Vie for First Place in Dutch Election”

Rutte Cautions Against Populist “Experiment” in Netherlands

Mark Rutte
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte answers questions from members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, July 5, 2016 (European Parliament)

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.

“This is not the time to experiment,” he told reporters in Rotterdam. Read more “Rutte Cautions Against Populist “Experiment” in Netherlands”

Geert Wilders Isn’t Really Interested in Governing

Geert Wilders
Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders gives a news conference in Brussels, June 16, 2015 (European Parliament)

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”.

Other Freedom Party dissidents have made similar claims. Read more “Geert Wilders Isn’t Really Interested in Governing”

Netherlands’ Wilders Loses Support to Christian Democrats, Socialists

I reported here the other day that Geert Wilders’ nationalist Freedom Party is losing support in the Netherlands.

Now we know where his voters are going.

The national broadcaster NOS reports that the nationalists are bleeding support to the Christian Democrats on the one hand and the far-left Socialists on the other.

That might seem odd, given that those parties are opposites in many ways.

But it makes sense when we look at these movements through the prism of the Netherlands’ “blue-red” culture war. Read more “Netherlands’ Wilders Loses Support to Christian Democrats, Socialists”