Leading up to the Netherlands’ election, pundits and analysts were arguing why Europe is turning towards right-wing populism and less-open foreign policies because of pressures of immigration and economic stagnation. Headlines went as far as to suggest that the European Union is in it’s twilight years and the post WWII liberal European order is collapsing. Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom (PVV) was touted as a candidate that would ride a wave of populism, not necessarily to the Prime Minister’s office but certainly take a large percentage of seats and inevitably influence future policies.
Yet the Netherlands election on March the 15th showed the enduring strength of proportional democracy. Out of a 28 party race, it wasn’t Wilders with anti-immigration rhetoric who came out on top. The euroscepticism of the PVV didn’t prevail, however it is now tied as the second biggest party in parliament. Although the PVV attained 19 seats according to early exit polls, incumbent PM Mark Ruttle of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) attained the most seats. Ruttle’s VVD on early results attained at least 32 seats in the 150 seat Parliament, and called the victory a ‘feast for democracy’. The VVD will look to form a likely coalition with the Christian Democrats and the Democrats 66, who both attained 19 seats. The VVD’s current coalition partner the Labor Party, who attained 38 seats in the 2012 election collapsed to 9 seats, a – 29 seat variance and clearly the biggest loser of the Netherlands 2017 election.
Overshadowing the VVD’s strong showing in the election was the Green Left Party (GL), led by the enigmatic 30 year old Jesse Klaver, labelled the Netherlands’ Justin Trudeau. The GL quadrupled its seats from four to sixteen, the biggest gain out of any party and achieved this against the tide of anti-immigration rhetoric that dominated debate in the lead up to the election.
The GL wasn’t the only winner of the Netherlands election, the EUR:USD rose more than 1% on the back of early exit polls.
Pro-EU leaders and advocates will look at the Netherlands’ election with a ray of hope, that the liberal structure of the post WWII era could yet stand. For the Almanis crowd the results of the Netherlands election present several pertinent questions that will reverberate throughout 2017;
Is this a sign that the tide of eurosceptic-populism in Europe is turning? What will occur in the French and German elections? Will Marie Le Pen surged to victory on a platform of anti-immigration and euroscepticism in France?
The Netherlands’ election was a significant moment in a year that will define the future of the EU. The French election in April is the real test, the bell-weather of European idealism. All eyes are on the liberal-centrist Emmanuel Macron against the ring-wing populism of Le Pen, but is there another chapter yet to come in the drama of European elections?
Forecast now at Almanis, what is next for Europe?