June 24, 2017

The People Have Spoken

The Dutch people have spoken but what the heck have they said? Parliamentary elections in the Netherlands took place on Wednesday. The euroskeptic anti-immigrant anti-Muslim candidate Geert Wilders’s party came in second with 13% of the vote (compared with the 21% showing of the center-right party that garnered the largest number of seats). That party will now need to cobble together a ruling coalition from political parties that have little in common other than an aversion for Geert Wilders. The editors of the Wall Street Journal observe:

Center-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s victory over euroskeptic, anti-immigrant firebrand Geert Wilders had looked likely in the final polling before the vote. In the event, Mr. Rutte’s Party for Freedom and Democracy won 33 out of 150 seats in Parliament with a little above 21% support. That’s a fall from his 27% vote share and 41 seats five years ago, but a respectable showing compared to Mr. Wilders’s 13% and 20 seats, despite the latter’s improved results compared to 2012.

Holland’s complex proportional-voting system, which saw 13 parties elected to Parliament, will now descend into the usual coalition building. Mr. Rutte is widely expected to emerge as the Prime Minister, although he’ll need to work hard to assemble a majority. The only thing uniting most parties is their refusal to form a coalition with Mr. Wilders even though his party came second.

Most observers won’t think any of that matters. This vote was billed by the media as 2017’s first test of euroskepticism after 2016’s Brexit and Italian referendum, and this time the vote seemed to suggest the anti-European tide might be waxing at last.

Yet this result means less than advertized, for both the Netherlands and Europe. Domestically, Mr. Rutte won in part by co-opting the sensible elements of Mr. Wilders’s platform, especially the need to better assimilate immigrants.

Read more here…