Holland rejects extremism: Vote shows tide can be turned

HAD Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam, anti-European Union Freedom party been more successful the result would have been a depressing affirmation that the election of Donald Trump and Brexit are part of a pattern casting a shadow over the liberal, stable and prosperous Europe of the last 70 years.

Centre-right prime minister Mark Rutte scored a resounding victory over Wilders but he had to adopt versions of Wilders’ anti-immigration policies to secure that victory.

Mr Rutte declared it an “evening in which the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘stop’ to the wrong kind of populism”.

Hopefully, his analysis will be confirmed during elections in France and Germany.

The Europe-wide difficulties for the traditional left continued with Labour winning just nine seats out of 150. 

As counting neared completion Rutte’s centre-right, liberal VVD was assured of 33 seats with Wilders’ party likely to finish second, but a long way behind on 20 seats, just ahead of the Christian Democrat CDA and liberal-progressive D66, which both ended third with 19 seats.

This diversity makes the Dáil seem a rock of sense and stability. Voters’ commitment to the environment was in stark contrast to the drill-baby-drill policies reshaping America’s environmental protection measures. 

The Greens jumped from four seats to 14.

It is far too early to say that the tide of the hateful kind of populism has been turned but it does show that it can be.


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