Those who support the idea of globalism and strive for closer European integration believe the results of the Dutch election indicate the tide has been stemmed, with Eurosceptics and «populist» forces on the defensive. The buck stops here. This is the end of domino effect. The reshaping of Europe has been prevented. The pro-NATO, pro-EU establishment elites are to see glory days again.
Is it really so if you get to the bottom of it?
The future of Europe remains to be at stake, including the UK, Germany and France. Will the concept of United Europe exist in one form or another? Will Scotland stay in the United Kingdom? Will Germany and France distance themselves from the United States? Some of these questions could be answered sooner than expected.
This year may become a turning point with the votes to take place in Germany, France and, probably, Italy. In a month, France will have a new president and Germans will have a new parliament elected in September. The example of the Netherlands may have little influence on the votes.
Let’s look at the facts. Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom made a substantial gain. It won 20 seats (of 150) according to the preliminary results, which is 5 seats more than in the previous election in 2012. The two governing parties got half as many seats as at the last election in 2012. The prime minister’s Party for Freedom and Democracy lost 8 seats and its coalition partner, the Labor Party (PvdA), lost 29 – an impressive defeat!
Actually, it’s a significant loss for those who ruled the country and a big gain (not big enough but still) for the right wing Eurosceptics led by Wilders. Many key points of the Party for Freedom’s program were «borrowed» by PM Mark Rutte’s People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and Christian Democrats. The popularity was raised due to the tough stance taken in the conflict with Turkey – something Wilders had been calling for. Actually, Prime Minister Rutte was riding to power on a wave of anti-migrant, anti-Islam sentiments.
The Sybrand Buma's Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) is all but certain to participate in the next governing coalition with 19 seats won (12, 5%) – an increase of 6 seats. The party has gained ground by adopting a tough line similar to Rutte's on immigration, adding a focus on communal values and a touch of nationalism to tap voter concerns about Dutch identity. It has proposed introducing singing the national anthem in schools and mandatory community service. According to Sybrand Buma, Her Majesty Queen Máxima should renounce her Argentine citizenship (she was born in Buenos Aires). The CDA presence in government would ensure a conservative stamp on any coalition.
Media rarely mention the fact that another right wing anti-EU and anti-migrants party – the Forum for Democracy – took part in its first election to win 2 seats (1,8%) – not a bad start for a party created only in September 2016. It calls for restoring ties with Russia among other things.
The main result is opposite to what it appears to be at first glance. The outcome of the Dutch election conforms to the current trend – Euroscepticism is on the rise across Europe. The winning forces are often called populist but in reality they are anti-establishment movements which emerged as a result of voters being fed up with left or right windbags. People want them gone and the entire political landscape in Europe fundamentally changed.
Socialists have few chances in France and the chances of Angela Merkel becoming Chancellor again are dim enough. Martin Schultz is a serious rival to reckon with.
Newly founded or old anti-establishment parties continue to make gains. Perhaps not today, but they will come to power. In a couple of months Marine Le Pen may become President of France to radically reform European politics. Even if she loses, Le Pen will remain the most popular politician in the country who is able to win the presidential election in 2022. Artificial creations designed by experts for a particular task, like Emmanuel Macron, for instance, can’t stop it. Nothing can prevent the new wave of politicians from coming to power.
The Dutch election has not changed anything. It has failed to turn the tide. The EU continues to fall apart. The European integration will never be the same. More and more EU members challenge the existing pattern.
The March 16 vote in the Netherlands is far from being a harbinger of Eurosceptics’ movements fading away. Quite to the contrary, it has confirmed the trend – the Old Continent is going through changes. We’ll never have the EU we once knew. The process may temporarily slow down but it’s too late to stop it.