Geert Wilders' Win Is a 'Political Earthquake'

Victory for Dutch anti-Islam, anti-EU populist is a boost for far-right populists across Europe
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2023 3:42 PM CST
Geert Wilders' Win Could Be 'Quandary' for Dutch
Far-right Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders, right, celebrates with Fleur Agema, left, and other party members after winning the most votes in a general election, in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday Nov. 23, 2023.   (AP Photo/Phil Nijhuis)

After the huge election victory of far-right leader Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, the world is paying a lot more attention to Dutch politics and the country's alphabet soup of political parties. Wilders' Party for Freedom—PVV—won 37 of the 150 seats in the lower house of the country's parliament, leaving the country in what the Economist calls an "awful quandary." Other parties have had a "cordon sanitaire" around the PVV in recent years, refusing to include the anti-Islam, anti immigration party in coalition governments, but it's unclear whether other parties will be able to assemble a majority of at least 76 this time.

The next three biggest parties after Wednesday's election—a Labour-GreenLeft alliance, the VVD, the NSC, and an alliance of Labour and GreenLeft parties—only have a combined 69 seats and they are "not enthusiastic about co-operating with each other," the Economist notes. There's a chance they could still form a coalition with one or two smaller parties, though Wilders argues that it would be undemocratic to keep his party out of government. More:

  • How the "political earthquake" happened. Cas Mudde at the Guardian blames the "political earthquake" of Wilders' surprising victory on Mark Rutte, the outgoing VVD prime minister. Rutte and his conservative party had hoped to dominate the election by shifting focus from a dispute involving farmers to the issue of asylum seekers, but they instead created fertile ground for Wilders, Mudde writes. "If you make the elections about the issues of the far right, notably the "problem" of immigration, the far right wins," Mudde writes.
  • Victory is a boost for far-right across Europe. The AP reports that the strong showing for Wilders' party has buoyed far-right populists across Europe, putting the movement back on track after a defeat in Poland last month. Those congratulating Wilders Thursday included Hungary's Viktor Orban and France's Marine Le Pen. Like Wilders, who wants to see a Dutch version of Brexit, Le Pen is strongly opposed to the European Union.
  • A "middle finger against the establishment." Rene Cuperus at the Clingendael Institute think-tank tells Reuters that proposals including leaving the EU and banning the Koran are not what attracted voters to Wilders. "It's not an anti-Islam vote. It's not an anti-EU vote. No, it's more a middle finger against the establishment," Cuperus says. "It's an anti-establishment signal ... to really warn the established parties to fix the housing market crisis and to fix migration."
  • The "Dutch Donald Trump." The BBC looks at the background and policies of the man sometimes called the "Dutch Donald Trump," who has been a prominent figure in the country's politics for more than 25 years.
(More Geert Wilders stories.)

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