Anti-Islam leader concedes defeat in Dutch election

21 Marzo, 2017, 02:45 | Autore: Santina Resta
  • Anti-Islam leader concedes defeat in Dutch election

Although the VVD had lost several seats since the last election, many had expected the party to lose much more ground to the Freedom Party. In 2017, it's being hailed as a great victory for liberalism.

THE defeat of the racist Freedom Party of Islamophobe Geert Wilders in the Dutch general election Wednesday sends a message far beyond the borders of the Netherlands.

Dutch leaders on Thursday began the hard process of forming a ruling coalition, hours after voters dealt a blow to European anti-immigrant populists with a worse-than-expected result for the insurgent candidate Geert Wilders.

With about 95 per cent of votes counted, Mr Rutte's VVD Party won 33 of parliament's 150 seats, down from 41 at the last vote in 2012.

He said "It's not yet the final victory but we see that this is part of a general trend which is the progression everywhere of patriots in Europe".

Trevor Noah, who hosts the popular USA late night programme "The Daily Show", gave Wilders and his "hateful" message a roasting Thursday, comparing his blond mesh to Donald Trump, and likening him to a blond villan played by the actor Christopher Walken's in "Batman Returns".

"The Netherlands is showing us that a breakthrough for the extreme right is not a foregone conclusion and that progressives are gaining momentum", said French independent leader Emmanuel Macron.

Germany's foreign ministry said: "Large majority of Dutch voters have rejected anti-European policies". Merkel told Rutte in a congratulatory phone call that she was "looking forward to continued good cooperation as friends, neighbors, Europeans". Wilders, like Marine Le Pen's National Front in France and the AfD (Alternative for Germany), has helped mainstream fringe far-right ideas.

"The result of the Dutch elections is a disappointment for those who were expecting a victory for Wilders".

The results are in for one of the most-watched Dutch elections in recent memory. This was not, as others have described both Trump's and the Brexit votes, an "anti-politics" electorate turning its back on the system, but a strongly engaged citizenry, albeit more polarised. These three parties are likely to play a crucial role in making of the next coalition government. "The odd thing about the electoral system in the Netherlands is that with 20% you can become the biggest...."

Relieved European leaders, fearing the rise of anti-EU sentiment in one of the bloc's founding members, congratulated Mr Rutte, now headed for a third term at the head of the one the eurozone's largest economies.

"Rutte uses terrifying words when he says that the elections have put a halt to the wrong type of populist".

Netherland's election win may have broken the right-wing's election winning spree but it would be foolish to assume future European elections could have the same result which is why liberal, pro-immigration candidates need to reassess their strategies to appeal to the right's captive audience as well.

"Turkish president Erdoğan gave (Rutte) a handsome gift", said Cas Muddle, associate professor at the University of Georgia, referring to the fact the row had allowed Rutte to appear strong on Muslims and consequently take votes from the far-right. If either wins the vote, it would be the first time that a non-establishment party candidate has become president.

In the wake of the victory of Donald Trump as USA president in November, Wilders surged, and at one point looked like he could get close to one of four Dutch voters behind him.

"Le Pen can not use the momentum of populism to promote her campaign in France", added the political scientist.

Wilders now finds himself in a familiar and comfortable position.