Thursday, March 16, 2017

Conservatives Defeat the Populist Far-Right in the Dutch Parliamentary Elections

           The party of the center-right Prime Minister of the Netherlands yesterday defeated the populist anti-establishment far-right party whose leader had associated himself with Donald Trump, as well as with other Russian-backed populist Eurosceptic parties in Europe.  

           The far-right leader has long been concerned about the dangers of militant Islam, but has increasingly expressed xenophobic sentiments and has failed to distinguish between non-militant Muslims, who are the majority within Islam, and violent jihadists. 

The Netherlands’ ruling party is currently in a grand coalition with a center-left party, as well as with centrists and two moderately Eurosceptic Christian conservative parties.  It will have to form another coalition.  The far-right populists gained only a few seats, but more at the expense of the center-left junior coalition member party than the ruling conservatives, as the Prime Minister’s party remains the largest in the Dutch Parliament.  Another center-right party gained more seats than the far-right and is expected to join the government, which will thus be more conservative overall than currently.

Relatively prosperous Netherlands is a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member and an ally of the United States as well in the War on Terrorism.

           A wave of populist far-right nationalism, usually backed overtly and covertly by Russia, has swept Europe and the West, most notably in the United States presidential election, which has threatened liberty, representative government, European cohesion, NATO and the global economy.  Since Trump’s election, however, despite strong efforts, such far-right parties have come up short in Austria and the Netherlands and appear to be headed for defeat in the upcoming French presidential election.  The results in the Dutch parliamentary elections suggest that conservatives can defeat the far-right elsewhere, without losing to the left.

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