Geert Wilders and Fellow Populists Fall Short in The Netherlands

Mar 17, 2017

The populist Dutch Party for Freedom, or PVV, fell short in its bid for control of the national legislature, even though it did peel away several seats from the ruling People’s Party, or VVD. The PVV, led by the insurgent and divisive figure Geert Wilders, is seen as part of a world-wide populist revolt against progressivism, open borders, and trans-national political institutions, such as the European Union.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, celebrating his party’s victory, said that the Dutch had rejected what he called “the wrong kind of populism.” Wilders described Rutte’s remarks as “very worrying, as if populists [were] semi-Nazis,” adding “Rutte has not seen the back of me.”

Battered by Brexit and intimidated by the Trump movement, Eurocrats gloated over the defeat of Wilders and his party.

Margaritis Schinas, spokesman for EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, described the Dutch election results as “A vote for Europe [and] a vote against extremists.” Holger Schmieding, chief economist for the EU-aligned Berenberg bank, insisted that the results represented “a victory for common sense,” and commended the Dutch electorate for defying what he called “the siren songs of the populists.”

Behind this celebratory façade, the Europhiles might be hearing footsteps: Rutte’s party lost eight seats in the most recent election, and French populist candidate Marine Le Pen, who has emerged as a very serious presidential contender, has commended Brexit “for showing us the way out of this huge prison” that is the EU.