“Shock Election Victory: Dutch Populist Seeks to Form Government
The Netherlands is experiencing a shock result in its general election, as right-wing populist (PVV) has won a surprise victory, bringing the party's leader, Geert Wilders, one step closer to becoming Prime Minister. Wilders, who has previously been described as one of Europe’s most controversial figures, has been campaigning on an anti-immigration and Eurosceptic platform for over a decade. Throughout his campaign, Wilders has strongly criticized the current coalition government led by the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) for failing to adequately address illegal immigration and the country’s relationship with the European Union. The PVV has been able to capitalize on the growing discontentment with the current government among Dutch citizens, and the election result marks a huge success for Wilders. The party secured 13% of the vote, making it the second biggest party in the Dutch parliament. The election result also means that Wilders might now be in a position to form a government. This possibility is highly controversial, considering Wilders’ history of inflammatory statements and his record on civil rights. During his campaign, Wilders has called for the deportation of all Moroccans from the country, used language that has been deemed as “hate speech” by some Dutch rights organizations and proposed policies that would infringe on freedom of speech. Despite the controversial nature of Wilders’ policies, it is unclear at this stage whether he will be able to form a government. Any coalition formed by the PVV would need the support of at least two other political parties, which may be unlikely due to the party’s extreme right-wing ideology. Whether or not Wilders succeeds in forming a government, the election result is indicative of the huge shift in public opinion in the Netherlands, and is likely to be seen as a warning to other European countries. It remains to be seen what will be the implications of the election for Dutch politics, but there is no doubt that it will have far-reaching consequences for both the Netherlands and Europe.