wnol.info January 21 2018

Dutch Voters Reject Wilders' Rhetoric in Record Numbers

January 21 2018, 12:15 | Irvin Gilbert

Dutch Voters Reject Wilders' Rhetoric in Record Numbers

Dutch PM ‘defeats anti Islam challenger in Netherlands election

Rutte's party moved farther to the right on immigration but did not embrace the heated, borderline racist statements embraced by Wilders.

The election debate in the Netherlands was dominated by the blonde populist's anti-Islamist rhetoric, with the mainstream parties moving to the right to fend off the challenge. His "patriotic spring" would still happen.

Wilders celebrated too however as his far-right Freedom Party looked set to emerge the second largest in the 150-seat parliament, with a total of 20 MPs. However, the Socialist Party, which is to the left of Labour, held on to most of its seats, and the Green Left party was the big victor of the night, making huge gains. These three parties are likely to play a crucial role in making of the next coalition government.

Rutte said the win is in part a reaction to the Dutch witnessing the fallout from Britain's vote to leave the European Union and America's election of Donald Trump as president.

In the run-up to the election, some opinion polls had forecast the PVV winning the biggest number of seats, sending alarm bells ringing across European capitals.

The PVV platform includes proposals to close all mosques in the Netherlands, ban the Quran, withdraw from the European Union, the cutting of income tax, and increased defense spending, all at no extra cost to citizens. "Rutte underlined this point when he said the Dutch are happy to stay the course that they have always taken - "...safe and stable and prosperous".

Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform, a research group in London, told the Times that Trump's victory led people to "think twice about voting for a populist, as people have seen that if you elect a populist you can get all kinds of wacky policies".

French President Francois Hollande said Mr Rutte had won a "clear victory against extremism" while German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, tweeted: "The Netherlands, oh the Netherlands you are a champion!" "Congratulations on this great result".

The Netherlands held its much anticipated general election this Wednesday 15 March 2017.

It is highly unlikely that Wilders' party will be part of any coalition, as all major parties have ruled out working with him.

Louise Hoon, Flemish Free University of Brussels: "Well from the perspective of the rest of Europe, it's interpreted very clearly as a "no" to populism and not another domino stone that will fall".

Many Wilders voters on Wednesday said that they felt that mainstream politicians had sold them out - echoing similar complaints during the USA presidential campaign. Labour's defeat appeared to signal voters shifting to the right, as numerous seats it lost did not go to other left-wing parties. Moreover Rutte's campaigning saw him make unsafe accommodations with the race-hate policies of the Freedom Party.

Coalition talks on forming a new government have begun but could take months to finalise, the Guardian reported.

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