Holland's rightward lurch is a warning
If the US Democrats don’t figure it out, it won’t just be the Dutch and Argentinian Trumps who roll to power - but despite his absurdities, the original as well
The winner of last week’s Dutch election was Geert Wilders, one of Europe’s most notorious immigrant-bashers. That capped a good week for populists, as Argentina also elected as president Javier Milei, another Trump mutation. There is a reason these things happened, and they offer lessons for the US in 2024.
That main one is that the Democrats need to be very careful as they balance their need to mollify the progressives and the youth with a possibly greater need to not alienate everyone else with culture war positions obnoxious to most Americans.
What does that have to do with Holland? Well, let’s take a look at Wilders, notorious for his peroxide hair and for being the bete-noir of Dutch politics for two decades.
His Party for Freedom (PVV in Dutch) basically stands for freedom from immigrants, and it won about a quarter of the vote on Nov. 22. That may not sound like much but it’s way more than any other of the 15 parties that made it into parliament, and double his haul the last time around. The PVV is the largest in what can be called – despite a confusing landscape divided along many issues – a conservative majority.
So Wilders, who can fairly be called the Dutch version of Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro or Marine le Pen, basically won the election. Only improbable (yet not impossible) alliances by incompatible other parties and splinters could deny him the prime ministership. In a normal situation the result would make it a given.
If all that seems odd for the country that gave backpackers from all corners of the world legalized pot, tolerance of misbehavior and a notorious Red Light District, it is basically because Wilders’ distrust of immigration has hit a nerve.