Trevor Dobbs, Staff Writer
The Netherlands went to the polls March 20 to cast their ballot in the Dutch provincial elections. Across the country, Dutch voters decided who would represent their province in the Dutch Senate. The results turned out to be shocking for pollsters, journalists and regular citizens alike, to say the least. For the very first time in Dutch politics, as well as Western European politics as a whole, a hard-right nationalist has become the largest political party in a legislative political chamber.
Thierry Baudet and his FvD party, translated as “Forum for Democracy,” have taken Dutch politics by storm and have shocked the world. Thierry and his nationalist populist Euro-skeptic FvD came out of nowhere and won 13 seats out of 75, one more seat than the next largest party, the VVD, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, a conservative liberal party. What is more shocking, is the fact that the exit polls underestimated Baudet and the FvD, estimating him to be the second largest party.
As a result of this election, the current center-right ruling coalition government in the Dutch Senate has lost its majority. When VVD party leader and current Prime Minister Mark Rutte was asked whether or not he would consider the FvD in a coalition agreement, he has stated that all options are on the table and has indicated that he does not have the luxury of being selective with his coalition partners, signaling possible coalition talks between Baudet and Rutte.
Despite being declared as a dead movement after the loss of Geert Wilders in 2016, this election result shows the trend of nationalist populism is still alive and is currently the fastest growing political movement in the Netherlands. While some are saying this election was part of the “red wave” that began with Donald Trump’s win in 2016, propelling nationalism into positions of power around the world, others are saying that this rise in nationalist populism is a result of something far deeper, namely, the immigration trends that have affected the Netherlands as well as many other European countries. All across Europe, we are seeing walls going up, not going down; for better or for worse, Europeans are closing their borders.
Since the results of the Dutch election, every single European country besides Portugal and the United Kingdom now has representation of nationalist populism in a position of influence in its governmental institutions. While some of these parties have been on the fringes in their respective countries for decades, they have recently surged to record heights all across the western world and are growing exponentially. Nationalist populism is the fastest growing movement in nearly every Western Democracy, at the expense of left wing and center right parties alike.
From the National Rally in France, the Danish People’s Party in Denmark, to the Northern League in Italy, it is clear that nationalist populism is taking Europe’s political scene by storm as one nationalist populist party after another becomes the most influential entity in each European country. With the European Union elections just a few months away, the whole world is watching to see if these nationalist populist parties will see a surge on the EU level as well.