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Netherlands Election: Wilders’ Loss

Geert Wilders, leader of the Netherlands far-right party, failed to deliver on his promise to bring a populist “revolution” to Europe as he lost the national election on March 15, 2017. The potential for an incendiary far-right party to gain control of the Netherlands Parliament was a serious concern for a Europe that suffered a serious destabilization at the result of the “Brexit” vote.  

Wilders’ incumbent opponent, Mark Rutte, is head of the VVD party, or the People’s Party for Liberty and Democracy. The VVD’s roots are liberal, with the party typically being the most vocal in terms of support for a free market standard. Originally founded in 1948 by Peiter Oud, the People’s Party for Liberty and Democracy shifted to a moderate populist ideology post 1971 and in recent years has been the dominant political party in the Netherland’s political scene.

In the 2017 general election, the People’s Party suffered a loss of eight parliamentary chairs but nonetheless retained a majority in the 150-seat congress. In contrast, the Netherlands Party for Freedom melds left and right ideology into a populistic political agenda. On issues such as healthcare, the PVV can be seen as fairly leftist, while in regards to national culture and immigration the Freedom party is in staunch support for a Judeo-Christian centric country. Moreover, immigration is often viewed as negative, especially from non-Western nations. Those who do emigrate are expected to adapt accordingly. The Freedom’s party views the European Union as a burden on the Netherlands and is in opposition of expanding membership to countries with a Muslim majority like Turkey.

The position the VVD holds in regards to Islam has been characterized by calls to ban the Quran and the closing of all mosques within the Netherlands. The rise of political groups such as the Freedom Party casts an ominous shadow on the fates of more than 4.8 million, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that are yet to be relocated.

Needless to say, the outcomes collected on the eve of March 15 would carry serious implications, not just for Europe as a whole, but also for the direct policy impact that would result from making a far-right party the majority in Parliament.

Nations such as France have also seen the development of right wing parties with platforms sporting inflammatory rhetoric take the national stage by storm with the likes of Marie La Penne spearheading the movement. The election sparked the highest turnout rate in more than 30 years as 81% of the eligible populace cast a ballot. The result was applauded by major European leaders including the Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, who declared that the “anti-EU

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