Dutch electorate votes right-wing and populist | Radio Netherlands Worldwide
The conservative VVD has won its first parliamentary election ever, but Geert Wilders and his populist Freedom Party (PVV) are seen as the real winners of these elections. The Islam-bashing party nearly trebled its seats. What do the Dutch see in the populist Geert Wilders?
'Fellow party members, bring along a battering ram, because tomorrow we are going to break down the doors”. With this admonition Geert Wilders marked his party’s election victory. The one-and-a-half million voters who cast their ballots for the man and his relentless crusade against ‘mass immigration’ and the ‘Islamisation of the Netherlands also celebrated his victory. The Freedom Party has nearly trebled in size compared to the 2006 elections, and is now the third largest after the conservative VVD and the social democratic PvdA.
When PvdA leader Job Cohen at a party meeting in Amsterdam congratulated Geert Wilders and his PVV on their major election victory, his remark was greeted with loud jeering. However, the former Amsterdam mayor rebuked his supporters, saying: ”I don’t want to hear any jeering, the PVV has won a major victory and we should respect that”. All established parties have since congratulated Wilders, and much of the criticism has died down now that one in six Dutch voters cast their ballots for the populist party.
The much-vaunted Dutch ‘polder model’, i.e. the system of ensuring economic prosperity and political stability by seeking broad political consensus on major issues, is unlikely to provide an answer to the current situation. The major parties are deeply divided on how to fight the economic crisis and how to address the thorny issues of immigration and Islam. And the election has failed to provide a clear winner with a strong mandate to form a coalition.