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Monday, 20 March 2017

Misperceptions on the 2017 Dutch general election

To a large extent, Dutch and international media are reporting that the Dutch far-right populists lost the 2017 Dutch general election. This view is wrong in several ways. It's important to address these misperceptions in order to understand what is really going on.

First and foremost, Geert Wilders did not lose as he increased his number of parliamentary seats from 15 to 20 (+33%). Even this comparison is arbitrary as it compares with the official outcome of the 2012 election. After 3 defections, the actual number of PVV seats was 12. In practical terms, Geert Wilders increased his seats from 12 to 20 (+67%). Labeling this as a "loss" is ignorant.

Secondly, the PVV is not a far-right party as its political agenda is Nationalist with mostly left-wing promises. Recently, two Dutch newspapers confirmed that Geert Wilders' PVV (1) often voted "left-wing" (NRC), and (2) that the PVV often voted pro-Russia in the European Parliament (Telegraaf). Thirdly, the term populist is utterly misleading as all politicians are populists - by definition.

The alleged loss of Geert Wilders is rooted in Wilders' personal disappointment as he expected (sic !) more than 20 seats. Interestingly, the nationalist media in Russia (RT), Turkey (Hurriyet), and USA (Breitbart, Fox) were also disappointed in Wilders' lack of victory (eg, AD, Independent).

The Turkish reaction even suggests that Turkey deliberately staged the 11 March 2017 diplomatic incident in Rotterdam in order for Geert Wilders to win the 2017 Dutch general election. Such an outcome would have benefitted the President's various claims about Europe (eg, fascist, nazi).

The ginormous loss of Dutch Labour got little attention: from 38 to 9 seats (-76%). This loss was not compensated by other left parties. As of 2017, left-wing parties only represent 37 out of 150 seats (2012: 57). This marks the final turn from Left-Right to Nationalism vs Globalism.

Nationalism in Dutch Parliament should not be underestimated as - apart from Geert Wilders - most small(er) parties are probably Nationalist. The resulting fragile 4-6 party coalition government will represent the leftovers of Internationalism (a.k.a. Globalism). Nationalism is stronger than ever before following the 2017 Dutch general election, although spread over various small(er) political parties with conflicting interests (eg, Islam party DENK vs Freedom Party of Wilders).

Recently, The Economist has featured 2 articles about the retreat of Globalism during a synchronised upswing of the global economy. For the time being, Fear (rooted in Nationalism) has won from Hope (rooted in Internationalism). Internationalism (a.k.a. Globalism) is not convincing in delivering its unique selling proposition (USP's): prosperity, safety and security.

Decades of excesses in Globalism (eg, asset price inflation, corporate bonuses, frauds, Ninja loans, Ponzi-pyramid schemes, management remuneration) resulted in various global crises (from real estate to banking into a global economic recession) and a post-crises lack of accountability and responsibility.

Austerity measures caused additional anger as household incomes declined and cost-of-living increased. The surge in young male labour migrants (rather than actual refugees) claiming European welfare including free housing, was the final push towards widespread anger and protest.

Reclaiming voter confidence will take time. As Dutch politician Johan Thorbecke (1798-1872) once said: "Trust comes on foot but leaves on horseback".

What's Going On (1971) by Marvin Gaye - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2