Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has hailed the result of the general election yesterday, Thursday, as a victory against “the wrong kind of populism”.
Despite losing eight seats, Rutte’s Tory VVD party remained the largest in parliament. Islamophobe Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, which at one point led the polls, gained five seats to come second.
Wilders’ virulent racism has horrified ordinary people across Europe. Europe’s elites are also frightened by his position as a “populist” opposed to the European Union (EU), who exploits anger at neoliberal policies.
Senior politicians across the EU have smugly congratulated Rutte for seeing off the enemy at the gates. But the established parties, which have attacked public services and workers’ rights, took a hammering.
Rutte’s coalition partner, the Labour Party, collapsed from 39 seats to just nine, only four more than the Party for the Animals. From the second biggest party in parliament, it has fallen to seventh.
The VVD could only stem its own losses by stealing large parts Wilders’ racist clothing.
Rutte ran an advert in the main newspapers telling ethnic minorities to “be normal or leave”. Last week he triggered a diplomatic row with Turkey to demonise and repress Dutch-Turkish dual nationals.
For Rutte this is the “right kind of populism” since it supports the bosses’ EU and delivers the bosses’ reforms. His attacks on workers’ rights have pushed the Netherlands to the top of the league for “labour market flexibility” within the EU.
The likeliest candidates to join him in a new coalition are the Christian Democrats and the Lib Dems’ Dutch sister. They both made gains, but neither offer an alternative to Rutte’s racism and austerity.
The far right has also continued to make inroads. Wilders now leads the second biggest party and is likely to become opposition leader.
The nationalist Forum for Democracy gained its first two MPs.
Both the Socialist Party (SP) and the Green Left overtook Labour, with 14 seats each.
For the SP, this was a loss of one seat. Its leadership hoped that by governing “responsibly” in coalitions at the local level and opposing immigration it would gain from the main parties.
But it was the more pro-immigration Green Left that quadrupled its vote, leaping from four seats to 14. Denk, a new anti-racist party led by Dutch-Turkish former Labour MPs, won three seats. Another new left party, Artikel 1, was unable to enter parliament.
Turnout was the highest since 1981, projected at 82 percent.
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