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From top: Dutch political party leaders Geert Wilders (PVV), Emile Roemer (SP), Mark Rutte (VVD), Lodewijk Asscher (PvdA), Alexander Pechtold (D66) and Sybrand van Haersma Buma (CDA) at the offices of De Telegraaf newspaper earlier this month: Shane Heneghan

The Netherlands heads to the polls on Wednesday with 2017’s first test of the wave of populism that dominated 2016.

Shane Heneghan writes:

So far, the main international headlines concerning the Dutch general Election deal with the potential electoral comeback of the far-right wing PVV under the leadership of their founder, Geert Wilders.

Staunchly pro-Israel, and pro-US (particularly under its new management), strongly anti-immigrant and anti-elitist, Wilders’ brand of populism has many echoes of the rise of UKIP, the Front National and Donald Trump.

Wilders is seldom vague in his rhetoric- frequently branding whole groups of emigrants as “Moroccan scum” and referring to Islam as the “ideology of a retarded culture”.

It should be remembered, however, that no opinion poll taken this year has seen his party on more than 23% of the vote and that the more recent polls see them as unlikely to be the largest party.

This brings us to the real story in Dutch politics in recent years.

There has been a kind of Balkanisation in the wake of the decline of both the centre-right VVD and the centre-left Pvda which has led to a mushrooming in small and single issue parties that opinion polls indicate may make forming a government after the election supremely tedious.

The political pallet is vast.

The country now has the world’s only Animal rights party with representation at the national level, a party dedicated to the issues affecting those over 50, a pro migrants party and a reformed evangelical Christian party all of which currently have representation in Parliament and all of which are expected to increase that representation at this election.

Worth watching is the rise of the radical liberal party, D66. A smaller party, with several stints in government under its belt over the past 40 years, they can claim credit for some of the more liberal reforms post war Holland is famous for including euthanasia, drug decriminalisation and same sex marriage.

The party is currently expected to take as many as 20 seats and a swing between now and polling day coupled with their centrist position economically could theoretically leave their leader as the first ever D66 prime minister.

Perhaps more radical if much less likely would be the prospect of the Dutch electing the world’s first Green Prime Minister in the form of Jesse Klaver, a 30 year old family man with Indonesian and Moroccan heritage who is expected to bring his party from four seats to the low 20s.

Given that the next government may involve up to five parties, the process of government formation is in itself is worth examining.

The Dutch monarch appoints an informateur, who – and this could prove to be crucial – may be an MP or senator from any party, who then begins negotiations between potential partners while keeping the King informed in a process that has long been criticised for its secrecy. As this is the 1st election since his mother’s abdication in 2013, it will be interesting to watch how King Willem-Alexander approaches this process.

This election is probably the most unpredictable I have come across in sometime and I include everything 2016 has put us through when I say that. One poll over the weekend suggested that there may be as little as 6% between the top six parties.

Given how badly I performed on these pages when examining the Irish election and the Brexit vote last year I won’t dare make a prediction. But I do think the result may very well set the tone for elections for the rest of 2017 with consequence for France and to a lesser extent Germany.

Get the popcorn.

Shane Heneghan is a Brussels-based election and poll watcher. Follow Shane on Twitter: @shaneheneghan

Top pic: Getty

32 thoughts on “Tilting At Windmills

  1. Sheik Yahbouti

    May I be pardoned for being a little pleased that the Dutch are getting some scrutiny (and maybe a little criticism) at last. Holland is not Amsterdam -of which we all hold fond memory. Holland is also Wilders and that particular carbuncle Jeroen Djisselbloem, a moralising ***t, who is foremost in the sacking of Greece, whilst co-incidentally having serious shipping interests. Greed and psychopathy have no specific nationality – they are present in every nation.

    Reply
    1. mauriac

      Turks rioting at the behest of a foreign Islamist president suggest that Dutch concerns are not without foundation.

      Reply
  2. Eoin

    Thanks, Brussels, for pushing the entire Eurozone to the far right for solutions. If I didn’t know better I’d swear it was deliberate.

    Reply
        1. Clampers Outside!

          LOL! you’re such a simple fellow in fairness. People are to be labelled racist for raising their concerns as those in the video have…. seriously? No wonder the left is collapsing in on itself.

          Many LOLs… but very sad indeed.

          Reply
          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Yes, people are to be labelled racist for raising their racist concerns, like worrying about the amount of non white people in the neighbourhood. That’s how it works.

          2. Listrade

            “They live on beasts only, and live like beasts. They have not progressed at all from the habits of pastoral living. ..This is a filthy people, wallowing in vice. Of all peoples it is the least instructed in the rudiments of the faith. They do not yet pay tithes or first fruits or contract marriages. They do not avoid incest.”

            “I am haunted by the human chimpanzees I saw along that hundred miles of horrible country…to see white chimpanzees is dreadful; if they were black one would not see it so much, but their skins, except where tanned by exposure, are as white as ours.”

            ” be the most barbaric and loathy conditions of any people under heaven…They do use all the beastly behaviour that may be, they oppress all men, they spoil as well the subject, as the enemy; they steal, they are cruel and bloody, full of revenge, and delighting in deadly execution, licentious, swearers and blasphemers, common ravishers of women, and murderers of children.”

            “The judgement of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson, that calamity must not be too much mitigated. …The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people.”

            Just a few of the pleasant things said about Irish immigrants and refugees through the years. Immigration that wasn’t exactly smooth or peaceful. Those same stats trotted out regarding current refugees and immigrants, similar were trotted out against the Irish.

            Maybe just because the accusations are made in a modern times, it doesn’t make them any more relevant, true or less xenophobic.

          3. Clampers Outside!

            Apparently, I’m also fat, likely a virgin, live with Mom, no job, anti-woman hating misogynist, homophobic, sexist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, transphobic, racist, alt-right type Nazi, bigot …and with no job (accept for the money Broadsheet apparently pays me to run a number of different handles), I’m a bedroom based, keyboard warrior, living in Mum’s home, looking for notice.
            And apparently, if I had a girl friend she’d be a fat, pathetic, pretend-feminist (I thank the lady feminist commenters of BS for that last bit of woman on woman hate).

            Apparently.

            *hums Brand New Heavies hit*

          4. Clampers Outside!

            “Maybe just because the accusations are made in a modern times, it doesn’t make them any more relevant, true or less xenophobic.”
            Are you suggesting that those in the video have made those accusations and called people monkeys, lesser than human, etc… and are you accusing myself too?

            Are you equating your quotes with something someone has done or said of the modern current situation of forced multi-culturalismn… or something I have said. If so, please do point to it, thanks. Otherwise your comment is just a comment about those attitudes towards the Irish from that time in the past. And a terrible attitude it was.

            But for Europeans to ask the EU to put on hold their multi-cultural experiment until they fix the problems with it as it is, is most certainly not the same thing.

            Those people are asking for a solution because the current one is demonstrably not working.

            And you equate them with racists for requesting the conversation about the problem be brought to the fore….. OK.

            Thanks for demonstrating the regressive left approach of shutting down conversation through accusation and demonisation of a position held by those concerned citizens who live with the experiences of this “failed” system of multiculturalism.
            Failed… according to Merkel (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-11559451) as she now looks (in late 2016) at a possible points based system… but she persists anyway, albeit possibly with new restrictions coming.

            Does that make her a racist, I do wonder…. or is she only part racist because she didn’t have such restrictions before…. hmmm?

            Or maybe she’s a racist because she called for banning the face veil?

            Or her renewed tougher stance on immigration, does that now make her racist? She’s looking at a points system, ya know.

            Source of above – http://europe.newsweek.com/angela-merkel-immigration-control-germany-election-528930?rm=eu
            and http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-11559451

            From the link. Does this make Merkel and her colleagues racists…. “In a nod to these troubles, Merkel began her speech with a promise not to allow a repetition of last year’s migrant influx, when nearly 900,000 migrants poured into Germany, and drew cheers when she said the Muslim full-face veil was not compatible with German culture.
            “Here we say ‘show your face’. So full veiling is not appropriate here. It should be prohibited wherever legally possible,” she said in a speech that lasted an hour and a quarter and was followed by 11 minutes of applause. ”

            11 mins applause…. must be a lot of racists and xenophobes in there to maintain that.

            And a Gold Star for your regressive left stance of demonising those that differ from your opinion and trying to paint myself as some loola racist xenophobe… *slow clap*

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            “Otherwise your comment is just a comment about those attitudes towards the Irish from that time in the past. And a terrible attitude it was.”

            FAO Everyone. There really is no point trying to speak rationally with a racist. They do not see themselves as racist. Look at the quote and the insane, hysterical rant it comes from for evidence. They are to be pilloried. Take some lessons from Trump’s election. Logic and reason don’t matter to people like Clampers.

          6. Listrade

            “And a Gold Star for your regressive left stance of demonising those that differ from your opinion and trying to paint myself as some loola racist xenophobe… *slow clap*”

            Nah, nice try though.

            Simple answer is that this “experiment” is an experiment that has been going on for centuries. It’s never been easy. Apart from white protestants, those emigrating (whether economic or political migrants or refugees) have always faced very similar accusations and resentment. That politicians have always blown in the wind depending on what is populist. It is more a here we go again.

            The difference being that the Irish were once the demonised.

          7. Clampers Outside!

            @Moyest – “Yes, people are to be labelled racist for raising their racist concerns, like worrying about the amount of non white people in the neighbourhood. That’s how it works.”
            Em… sorry… what now? Who said anything like this. Oh yeah, you did, in attempt to assert that I did. Yet another regressive delegitimising tactic from the muppets corner.

            – – – – – – –

            @Moyest – I wrote this… “Otherwise your comment is just a comment about those attitudes towards the Irish from that time in the past. And a terrible attitude it was.” – Sorry… what’s wrong with this exactly? You assert this is part of an “ insane, hysterical rant “ that contains “evidence” of racism. Eh…..? Yet you are still not able to point to that evidence, only to just assert it is there. Eh… again?

            I’ll say, it’s a fine example of delegitimisation through accusation.

            And then you go on….
            ” FAO Everyone. There really is no point trying to speak rationally with a racist. They do not see themselves as racist. Look at the quote and the insane, hysterical rant it comes from for evidence. They are to be pilloried. Take some lessons from Trump’s election. Logic and reason don’t matter to people like Clampers. ”

            Really? Is this because you assert it to be? Because there is no evidence other than you fizzing away with accusations. Please point to the evidence, thanks.

            – – – – – – – – – – – – –

            @Listrade – The multiculturalism experiment has not ” been going on for centuries”. Natural immigration is not the same as forced multiculturalism of the past few decades in Europe.
            I know, forced is a strong word, but when it goes against the will of the majority of Europeans, what else but “forced” upon them could it be called.

            I guess, by your view, this majority of Europeans who oppose immigration from Muslim countries, are all racists who need to be “forced” to accept more immigration… or something….

            Are most Europeans racist because they hold these views as outlined in the study linked below – views that you clearly see as racist….?

            https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/what-do-europeans-think-about-muslim-immigration

  3. Otis Blue

    An interesting read.

    Apropos nothing, It brought to mind a story told to me by a political representative of the Green Left in Holland For some time he and his colleagues had been opposing an important road project in Brabant on environmental grounds. They held up work for a few years but ultimately the road went ahead as intended.

    On its completion they had cause to attend a political meeting in a location, the easiest way to access which required that they travelled upon said road. This lead to much debate amongst the travelling group. Consensus looked unlikely. However as their environmental credentials demanded that they car pool an agreement of sorts emerged and they agreed to travel via the new road on just this one occasion. They did so grim faced and in silence for some time until eventually one of the number could take no more and said to the others “let’s face it guys, it’s a fupping great road”

    Thereafter came the split.

    Reply
  4. Pat Harding

    Ireland needs a radical liberal party like D66, instead of a gang of conservative ‘jiggers’ like Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the left-overs: Labour, Sinn Fein, Social Democrats, PBP, AAA.

    First of all let’s look at the Jiggers (Bog-trotting Conservatives doing the usual jig every five years) Both FF and FG claim to have large memberships, but in truth they’re paper tigers with declining market share, and very few active members. You’d be surprised how few there are on the ground.

    The Jiggers today are centralised marketing agencies that engage in vote-harvesting through savvy PR and tailor made policies crafted by using analytics. Their candidates are merely brokers who ‘interface’ with the electorate. As Trump and Brexit showed, traditional parties like FF, FG are extremely vulnerable to insurgent campaigns which by-pass traditional media and channels of communication (in other words bog-off RTE, IT, Indo, and TV3) and go directly to source. They have spent a fortune on social media, polling and analytics, but they still can’t increase their voting share.

    They only manage to survive at their present levels because a sizeable proportion of the electorate (young people) don’t vote

    Then there’s the leftovers, the most professional of who are Sinn Fein, but also the most dangerous. Many of their members have an ambiguous relationship with the rule of law, and if you’ve ever attended one of their conventions (Ard Fheis) you’ll still hear some of the same old rhetoric about shooting the Brits, and quite a few rebel songs too. Just imagine being in a room with a collection of fanatics, psychopaths, and the mafia…you get the real picture pretty soon.

    Labour are going nowhere, after all the only thing they ever achieved was proving they were more nepotistic than Fianna Fail, which was quite an achievement, all things considered. The Social Democrats, are interesting, but they kind of remind me of Knots Landing, which was the really bad spin-off of Dallas. In other words, they’re just the people who got fed up with the self-serving leadership of the labour party, but they lack definition.

    The others while noisy, can’t be taken seriously, I’d be very surprised if you could find anyone in PBP / AAA who could read a balance sheet… Sadly, they’re still taking their cue from the Morning Star….

    If you read through the stats from the last election, you can see there’s a gap. Don’t let the M.S.M. (Mainstream Media, the Jiggers, and Leftovers tell you there’s not, there is. So the ground is ripe for a liberal enterprise, remember it doesn’t have to be formalised into a party. With a bit of will and some work it would be straight forward enough to put up candidates in all 43 constituencies as an alternative to the Jiggers (who are terrified of an insurgent campaign) and the Leftovers.

    Reply
    1. rotide

      “As Trump … showed, traditional parties like FF, FG are extremely vulnerable to insurgent campaigns which by-pass traditional media ”

      It continues to boggle the mind that people believe the myth that Trump didn’t use the media more than traditional candidates. Even when the evidence is right there in peoples faces they continue to trot out this garbage.

      Trump probably used the media better than any candidate since JFK.

      Reply
      1. Nigel

        He’s a feckin’ reality show star. He ran a reality show media strategy all the way to the White House.

        Reply

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