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Dutch Far-Right Leader Geert Wilders’ Election Victory Was Long in the Making

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The Shocking Rise of Geert Wilders

The recent victory of Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders in the country's elections may have come as a surprise to many, but his rise to power was actually a long time coming. For years, mainstream conservatives have adopted his talking points, and now, they may have inadvertently paved the way for him to become the next prime minister.

The Political Landscape Shift

The Dutch elections sent shockwaves across Europe, with Wilders' far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) emerging as the largest party in the Netherlands. This marks an unprecedented victory for a far-right party in Dutch postwar history. While many express disbelief and outrage, the truth is that Wilders' success is a result of the further radicalization of the right.

The Role of Migration

The politicization of migration played a crucial role in Wilders' rise to power. While issues such as the "cost of living" crisis and democratic accountability were prominent in this election, it was the focus on migration that ultimately decided the outcome. The collapse of the previous government over this issue brought migration back to the forefront, and Wilders capitalized on it by using the slogan "Dutch people first."

The Role of Mainstream Conservatives

The liberal-conservative People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), led by outgoing prime minister Mark Rutte, played a dangerous game with its messaging around migration. By adopting language and policies similar to those of the far right, the VVD inadvertently helped normalize their ideas. This shift towards the right ultimately backfired, as the VVD suffered heavy losses in the election.

The Rise of Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders first gained traction in 2006 when he won nine seats in the elections and renamed his party the Party for Freedom. He built his party on a platform that called for the dominance of the Judeo-Christian and humanist tradition and culture, while also advocating for the scrapping of the ban on discrimination in the Dutch constitution. Since then, Wilders has been a prominent figure in Dutch politics, known for his controversial views on Islam and immigration.

The Shift in the VVD

The VVD, under the leadership of Mark Rutte, played a significant role in the normalization of the far right. In an attempt to compete with the PVV, the VVD embraced anti-immigration rhetoric and policies, renouncing its own classical-liberal values. Rutte's focus on the "refugee crisis" and his actions on the European stage helped create a climate that favored the far right.

A Political Framing

The debate around migration and social security in the Netherlands has been framed in a way that benefits the far right. While the number of asylum applications has remained relatively stable, the right-wing narrative portrays the country as "one big asylum seekers' center." This framing is misleading and ignores the economic benefits that migration brings to the country.

The Base of Geert Wilders' Support

Geert Wilders' party attracted voters from various backgrounds and regions of the Netherlands. Many who voted for him did so out of dissatisfaction with the establishment parties. While some may argue that Wilders has become "milder" in his rhetoric, his program remains essentially discriminatory and racist.

The Future of Dutch Politics

The outcome of the election has left the creation of the next Dutch government in a complicated situation. A coalition of the PVV with the VVD and the Christian-democratic New Social Contract (NSC) is possible, as is an anti-Wilders cabinet of the VVD, NSC, and the center-left alliance under Frans Timmermans (PvdA-Green Left). The resistance to Wilders among the VVD and NSC seems to have weakened, indicating a potential shift in their stance.

Overall, the rise of Geert Wilders and the far right in the Netherlands is part of a broader normalization of far-right politics in Europe. The left now faces a new challenge and must find a way to be more combative in order to counter this threat.

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