John Thys Agence France-Presse An arduous task awaits Islamophobic leader Geert Wilders from Thursday: to convince his rivals to form a coalition. His PVV (Freedom Party) won 37 of the 150 seats in Parliament, more than double than in the 2021 poll, according to almost complete results.
Matthieu Demeestere – Agence France-Presse and Julie Capelle – Agence France-Presse in Brussels and The Hague
The triumph of the far right in the Dutch elections caused a shock wave in Brussels, less than seven months before the European elections which could be marked by a new surge in Eurosceptic forces.
In the eyes of pro-European groups, the leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) Geert Wilders, close to the Frenchwoman Marine Le Pen, also praised for his victory by the Hungarian Viktor Orban, looks like a scarecrow.
He attacks the “diktats” of the European Union and promised during his campaign a referendum on “Nexit”, a potential exit of the Netherlands from the European Union (EU). Not to mention his controversial biases on support for Ukraine or the war in the Middle East.
However, an arrival of Geerts Wilders at the table of European leaders as prime minister of his country is not for tomorrow, political scientists warn.
“We must distinguish arithmetic (its first place in the elections with 37 seats according to the latest projections, Editor's note) and what is politically possible,” recalls Benoît Rihoux, professor at the Catholic University of Louvain, in Belgium, emphasizing that it will be forced to compromise to find allies and hope to form a coalition.
“The Netherlands is a founding member of the EU and we continue to count on its full participation in the Union, obviously,” commented Eric Mamer, spokesperson for the European Commission, refusing to comment on the election results.
As the European elections in June 2024 approach, this new progression of an anti-immigration Eurosceptic party, in the 7th most populous country in the EU (17 million inhabitants), announces a possible upheaval of the balance in Parliament of Strasbourg.
“We can expect at least a consolidation of the right-wing populists or even an increase in their number of seats in the European Parliament,” explains Nathalie Bracke, of the Free University of Brussels (ULB), joined by AFP.
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“Can’t wait for Sunday”
Without currently elected representatives, the PVV could make its entry by strengthening the ranks of the Identity & Democracy group alongside in particular of the French National Rally (RN) and the German AfD, both of which are on the rise, according to this professor of political science.
“Can’t wait for June 2024! », reacted on the social network
What Nathalie Bracke describes above all as “generalized dissatisfaction in certain countries with regard to traditional parties” could also benefit the ECR group in the European Parliament.
Made up of Eurosceptic conservatives from sixteen countries (from Spain with elected officials from Vox or from Poland with those from PiS) this group claims 67 MEPs, ahead of ID (60) and just behind the Greens (72)… Who could well be overtaken in the future composition of the hemicycle.
“There is even a possibility that ECR will become the third group in Parliament for example if the liberals are sanctioned,” further indicates the ULB political scientist.
For French elected official Raphaël Glucksmann, likely head of the socialist list in the European election, the EU is in danger with the successes garnered by the far right election after election.
“Mr Wilders campaigned not only against Muslims, immigration, but also against the European Green Deal, ecological transition etc. », he noted.
Symbolic figure of the battles of the European Commission, architect of its Green Deal, the Dutchman Frans Timmermans lost his bet to make an eco-socialist team triumph in his country .
Left behind by 12 seats by the PVV in the latest projections, the former vice-president of the European executive will have difficulty doing well in the upcoming negotiations.
The challenge of bringing together a coalition
Until then, an arduous task awaits Islamophobic leader Geert Wilders from Thursday: convincing his rivals to form a coalition.
His PVV won 37 of 150 seats in Parliament, more than double than in the 2021 poll, according to almost complete results.
But the unexpected victory of the politician with the famous peroxided hair does not guarantee him a position as prime minister.
The left-ecologists alliance of Frans Timmermans is, according to these results, second with 25 seats (+8), while the center-right VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte) won 24 seats (-10).
The victory of Mr. Wilders, 60, should be received with apprehension in Brussels: the PVV has notably promised a referendum on whether or not the Netherlands should remain in the European Union.
Before the elections, the leaders of the three other major parties had assured that they would not participate in a government led by the PVV. But the latter “can no longer be ignored”, insisted Mr. Wilders.
The left-ecologists alliance of Mr. Timmermans, second with 24 seats, immediately rejected a coalition with Mr. Wilders. “The time has come for us to defend democracy,” he said.
Finally, the popular Pieter Omtzigt of the new pro-reform New Social Contract (NSC, 20 seats) party said he was open to negotiations, while conceding that the process would “not be easy.”
“It will depend entirely from the VVD,” Sarah de Lange, professor of political pluralism at the University of Amsterdam, told AFP.
“A big question will be who will be prime minister, because with Wilders as Prime Minister, the Netherlands finds itself in an impossible situation internationally,” she added.
VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz said, after a disappointing result, that it will be necessary to see if Mr. Wilders will manage to forge a coalition.
Mr. Rutte spent more than 13 years at the helm of the Netherlands, a record length but not without scandal.
He shocked the Netherlands in July by announcing the fall of the government after differences “ insurmountable” on immigration, then his departure from politics.
Mr. Wilders is sometimes referred to as “Dutch Trump,” but he actually entered politics long before the former US president.
Not hesitating to call Moroccans “scum” or to suggest caricature competitions of the Prophet Muhammad, Mr. Wilders has built his career fighting against what he calls an “Islamic invasion” of the West.
Neither his troubles with the law – which found him guilty of insulting Moroccans – nor the death threats against him – which have kept him under police protection since 2004 – have discouraged him.
< p>More recently, he has tried to tone down his populist rhetoric and focus on voters' concerns other than immigration, such as the cost-of-living crisis. He also said he was willing to put aside his views on Islam to govern.
The day after his victory, he told journalists that he wanted to be “prime minister of all the Dutch » and that it would “work hard with other parties” to form a coalition.
But the PVV manifesto retained its xenophobic tone. He proposes the restoration of Dutch border control, the detention and expulsion of illegal immigrants, the return of Syrian asylum seekers and the reintroduction of work permits for intra-EU workers.
His manifesto also says that “The Netherlands is not an Islamic country. No schools, Korans and mosques.”