The Netherlands went to the polls and the votes have been counted. Not only the Dutchies, but also the world watched these elections with bated breath. These weren’t just normal elections like every four years, this time much more was at stake. The outcome of these elections was decisive for the future of Europe. How come so?
The Dutch quarterfinals
To quote prime minister Mark Rutte, ‘’the Dutch elections are the quarterfinals in the battle against wrong populism’’. The semi-final will be played in France in May and April, where it is still questionable whether Marine le Pen from the right-nationalistic Front National will win. The final battle will be fought in Germany, where the christian-democratic Chancellor Angela Merkel must take a stand against the euro sceptical anti-immigration party AfD (Alternative für Deutschland). In the Netherlands the right-wing populist Geert Wilders from the Freedom’s Party was the so-called ‘’wrong populist’’ challenger. Let’s see how that worked out!
Outcome of the elections
After a long period of distributing flyers at windy train stations, long talks at late-night talk shows and endless speculations, the elections were finally there! Elections which turned out to have the highest turnout in years, when exactly 80,8% of the Dutch citizens casted one’s vote. During the long Wednesday night of the 15th of March the outcome slowly became clear and now, more than a week later, the outcome is official. All the votes have been counted and the outcome is irreversible: the Netherlands convincingly chose liberalism over populism.
Reading the outcome
So, what do all these numbers mean? How does this outcome translate itself in the message the Dutch voters tried to give with their votes? As you can see Mark Rutte’s Liberal’s Party was rewarded for their leading role for the last 4 years. Despite their loss of 10 seats (compared to the elections of 2012) they clearly remain the biggest party of the Netherlands. The expected end race between prime minister candidates Mark Rutte and Geert Wilder failed to occur. However, this doesn’t mean that Wilder’s Freedom’s Party didn’t manage to get votes. The populists still follow the Liberal’s Party as the second biggest party.
Feast of democracy
Not only did the liberals win the day, but these elections know many different winners. The Christian democrats and the progressive democrats booked a nice profit and now make a big chance to take part in government. Another great gain was made on the left side of the political spectrum. The young Jesse Klaver, from the green party, booked a spectacular gain of 10 seats. Another remarkable result was achieved by Marianne Thieme from the Party for the Animals. Thieme broadened the outlook of the party from animal welfare to the continued existence of the planet. So besides liberalism and populism, a big part of the Dutchies also clearly voted for progressive environmentalism. But when there are so many winners, there also must be a big loser. This year these were the social-democrats of the Labour Party who were mercilessly punished for their government participation for the last four years.
As we’re speaking, the talks and negotiations for a new government are in full swing. So what’s it going to be? A liberal but progressive government with a touch of green or a right wing and slightly populistic government? To be continued!