In the Netherlands, a Trump-esque event occurred in the recent May elections in the form of far-right populist Geert Wilders and his “Party for Freedom” (PVV). Currently, the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy led by Mark Rutte leads the polls. However, the party lost eight seats in the election resulting in the PVV nearly doubling its votes since the last election in 2012. This is a worrying sign as populism still remains an issue for Europe and this culture of “anti-elitism” has been occurring across the continent leading to the rise of far-right parties in countries such as France and Germany.
The Netherlands have generally avoided politics of extreme populism with many of its citizens remaining open to more liberal ideals, but the recent election is indicative that the Netherlands has not been able to escape the wave of populism sweeping Europe. With the election of Trump in the US, there has been an increase in far-right, anti-establishment rhetoric. This can be seen in the Netherlands in the rise of Wilders and his PVV, which has been growing steadily in popularity since its formation in 2006.
Wilders has made several huge promises in the election, including lower taxes and a halt on any immigration from Islamic countries. The PVV has also pledged to pull the Netherlands out of the European Union if they gain enough votes.
Wilders has also been associated with a number of inflammatory statements and proposals over the years, such as the wearing of burqas and banning the the Koran, which have caused much controversy and garnered him international attention. Despite the rise in support for the PVV, it’s still unclear as to whether Wilders will be able to push through his agenda in the Netherlands as the ruling party holds a majority in parliament.
Overall, the recent election in the Netherlands serves a reminder that populism still remains an issue for Europe. The rise in popularity of the PVV highlights how anti-establishment rhetoric and far-right politics has been occurring across the continent. It remains to be seen, however, if Wilders will be able to push his agenda through in the Netherlands.