Thierry Baudet's electoral surprise and the new Dutch right wing
The Netherlands has seen in recent years not only the decline of some of the traditional parties, but even the new party of the populist Geert Wilders has been overtaken by an even newer training , led by Thierry Baudet, also markedly right-wing but somewhat more sophisticated. The political earthquake of the March regional elections could sweep away the coalition government of the liberal Mark Rutte, who has provided continuity in Dutch politics over the past nine years.
▲ Thierry Baudet, in an advertising spot for his party, Forum for Democracy (FVD).
article / Jokin de Carlos Sola
On March 20, regional elections were held in the Netherlands. The parties that make up the coalition that keeps Mark Rutte in power suffered a strong punishment in all regions, and the same happened with the party of the famous and controversial Geert Wilders. The big winner of these elections was the Forum for Democracy (FvD) party, founded and led by Thierry Baudet, 36, the new star of Dutch politics. These results sow doubts about the future of Mark Rutte's government once the composition of the Senate is renewed next May.
Since World War II, three forces have been at the center of Dutch politics: the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the Labor Party (PvA) and the liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). All three accounted for 83% of the Dutch electorate in 1982. Due to the Dutch system of proportional representation, no party has ever had an absolute majority, so there have always been coalition governments. The system also means that, because they are not punished, small parties always achieve representation, thus providing a great ideological variety in Parliament.
Over the years, the three main parties lost influence. In 2010, after eight years in government, the CDA went from 26% and first place in Parliament to 13% and fourth place. This fall brought the VVD to power for the first time under the leadership of Mark Rutte and triggered the entrance of Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom (PVV), a right-wing populist training , in Dutch politics. Shortly thereafter Rutte formed a Grand Coalition with the PvA. However, this decision caused Labour to drop from 24% to 5% in the 2017 elections. These results meant that both the VVD and Rutte were left as the last element of old Dutch politics.
These 2017 elections generated even greater diversity in Parliament. In them, parties such as the Reformed Party, of Calvinist Orthodox ideology; the baptized 50+, with the goal to defend the interests of retirees, or the DENK party, created to defend the interests of the Turkish minority in the country, achieved representation. However, none of these parties would later be as relevant as the Forum for Democracy and its leader Thierry Baudet.
Forum for Democracy
The Forum for Democracy was founded as a think tank in 2016, led by 33-year-old French-Dutchman Thierry Baudet. The following year the FvD became a party, presenting itself as a conservative or national conservativetraining , and won two MPs in regional elections. Since then it has been growing, mainly at the expense of Geert Wilders and his PVV. One of the main reasons for this is that Wilders is accused of having no program other than the rejection of immigration and the exit from the European Union. As celebrated as it was controversial was the fact that PVV presented its program on only one page. On the contrary, Baudet has created a broad program in which issues such as the introduction of direct democracy, the privatization of certain sectors, the end of military cuts and a rejection of multiculturalism in general are proposed. On the other hand, Baudet has created an image of greater intellectual stature and respectability than Wilders. However, the party has also suffered declines in popularity because of certain attitudes of Baudet, such as his climate change denialism, his relationship with Jean Marie Le Pen or Filip Dewinter, and his refusal to answer whether he linked IQ to race.
The Netherlands is divided into 12 regions, each region has a committee, which can have between 39 and 55 representatives. Each committee elects both the Royal Commissioner, who acts as the highest authority in the region, and the executive, usually formed through a coalition of parties. The regions have a number of powers granted to them by the central government.
In the provincial elections last March, the FvD became the leading party in 6 out of 12 regions, including North Holland and South Holland, where the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, which had been traditional VVD strongholds, are located. In addition to this, it became the party with the most representatives in the whole of the Netherlands. These gains were achieved mainly at the expense of the PVV. Although these results do not guarantee the FvD government in any region, they do give it influence and media coverage, something Baudet has been able to take advantage of.
Several media linked Baudet's victory to the murder a few days earlier in Utrecht of three Dutch nationals by a Turkish citizen, which authorities said was most likely terrorist motivated. However, the FvD had been growing and gaining ground for some time. The reasons for its rise are several: the decline of Wilders, the actions of Prime Minister Rutte in favor of Dutch companies such as Shell or Unilever (business where he previously worked), the erosion of the traditional parties, which in turn damages their allies, and the rejection of certain immigration policies that Baudet linked to the attack in Utrecht. The Dutch Greens have also experienced great growth, accumulating the young vote that previously supported Democrats 66.
result of the Dutch regional elections on March 20, 2019 [Wikipedia].
Impact on Dutch Policy
The victory of the Baudet party over Rutte's party directly affects the central government, the Dutch electoral system and the prime minister himself. First of all, many media welcomed the results as a evaluation of the Dutch people on Rutte's government. The biggest punishment was for Rutte's allies, the Democrats 66 and the Christian Democratic Appeal, which lost the most support in the regions. Since coming to power in 2010, Rutte has managed to maintain the loyalty of his electorate, but all his allies have ended up being punished by their voters. Therefore, it is possible that Rutte's government will not be able to finish its mandate, if his allies end up turning their backs on him.
The result of the March regionals may have a second impact on the Senate. The Dutch do not appoint their senators directly, but the regional councils elect the senators, so the results of the regional elections have a direct effect on the composition of the upper house. It is therefore very likely that the parties that make up Rutte's government will suffer a major setback in the Senate, which will make it difficult for the Prime Minister to pass his legislative initiatives.
The third consequence directly affects Rutte himself. In 2019 Donald Tusk finishes his second term as president of the European committee and Rutte had a good chance of succeeding him, but with him being the main electoral asset of his party, his departure could sink the VVD. It could then happen as it did with Tusk's departure from Poland, which resulted in a conservative victory a year later.
Whatever the outcome, Dutch politics has in recent years shown great volatility and a lot of movement. In 2016 it was believed that Wilders would win the election and previously that D66 would wrest the Liberal leadership from the VVD. It is difficult to predict which way the wind will turn the mill.