There was a collective sigh of relief when Geert Wilders did not come out on top in the Netherlands election. But Tom Walkom warns that all is not sweetness and light:
Wilder’s Freedom Party still did well. It came a strong second, winning five additional seats in the 150-person legislature, for a total of 20.More important, other parties felt compelled to ape Wilders, at least in part.Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy ran on a platform of economic liberalism and cultural nationalism, warning immigrants to adopt Dutch values or leave.
If there was any saving grace, it was the pledges of the other parties that they would not work with Wilders. But the way seats are spread among the other parties is a bit troubling:
Rutte’s party lost eight seats but still managed to come first with 33.The Christian Democratic Appeal, another conservative party, campaigned on a nationalist platform that included banning dual citizenship and requiring schoolchildren to sing the national anthem.That, too, worked. The Christian Democrats saw their seat total rise from 13 to 19, virtually guaranteeing them a central role in whatever coalition government emerges.Much has been made of Jesse Klaver’s Green Left party, which saw its seat share rise from four to 14.
The 30-year-old Klaver is of Moroccan and Indonesian heritage. He supports immigration, the EU and efforts to combat climate change. With his movie-star looks and dark, wavy hair he has been called Holland’s Justin Trudeau.His success, as well as that of the pro-Europe D66 party, which went from 12 to 19 seats, underlines just how complicated the new populism is.
And, as is the case with any coalition government, everything depends on how well Rutte can get a team of rivals to work together. If he fails, the number two man may step in.
Things are not exactly as they might first appear.