The result of the recent Dutch general election result is being widely touted as a victory for the “Dutch Trump,” strident anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders [What Geert Wilders’ victory means for Dutch society, by Anne Holligan, BBC News, November 25, 2023]. But I see the reality as more nuanced. Wilders is certainly the latest evidence of the gathering backlash in white countries against the Great Replacement. But there’s also increasing polarization—the centrist parties collapsed and Leftist parties expanded. And balkanization—literally: DENK, a party representing Turkish and other Muslims, won three seats. The impact of immigration is making Dutch politics more… interesting, across the board.
Though Wilders has toned down his rhetoric in recent years in order to make his Freedom Party more electable, his policies have included banning the Koran and banning the building of new mosques in the Netherlands, and he has a “Hate Speech” conviction for referring to Moroccans in the Netherlands as “scum.” In 2009, he was briefly banned from the U.K. as a threat to public order, and he has lived under police protection since 2004 due to threats over his views on Islam. (This is not a joke: the previous most prominent immigration patriot leader, Pim Fortuyn, was assassinated by a white Leftist pro-immigration fanatic in 2001.) His current policies include the Netherlands leaving the European Union, banning Islamic headscarves in public buildings, a complete halt to asylum seekers entering the country, ending all foreign aid, and putting the Dutch people first [Geert Wilders: Who is he and what does he want?, by Paul Kirby, BBC News, November 24, 2023].
There are a number of clear reasons for the “victory” of his party, which was the third largest in parliament after the last Dutch election and has now risen to first place. The massive influx of foreigners into the already densely populated Netherlands has led to a housing crisis and difficulties accessing health services. The leader of the center right VVD, which led the 2021-3 coalition government, said she might be prepared to go into coalition with Wilders (she has since changed her mind), which made him seem less extreme in the eyes of potential voters. The entire election campaign ended up being focused on immigration, which is Wilders’ key issue.
Additionally, despite his far-Right media portrayal, Wilders is strongly pro-Israel and has spent time on a kibbutz. (His wife, who rarely appears in public, is reportedly Jewish [Geert Wilders Family: All About Wife Krisztina Wilders And Children, Times Now, November 23, 2021]. He himself is reportedly part-Jewish and Indonesian [Geert Wilders’ Indonesian roots define his politics, says anthropologist, vorige.nrc.nl, September 4, 2009]).
The Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, therefore, seemed to prove, to many voters, that everything Wilders had long been saying about Islam—that it is an intolerant religion incompatible with Western values—was correct. Most important, however, Wilders performed extremely well in the TV debates with the other party leaders. Before these took place, it was looking like Wilders’ party might come third again. After these, the polls were suddenly predicting that he would come first, which he duly did, by quite a large margin [Geert Wilders’ victory in Netherlands election spooks Europe, by Katya Adler, BBC News, November 24, 2023].
In addition, the narrative that the Dutch people have “had enough” of traditional politics is added to by the rise from nowhere of a party called “New Social Contract,” which is populist and libertarian and whose leader has said he is open to working with Wilders.
But I am not sure that this is the great triumph for the “Far Right” that even the BBC seems to claim it is.
The Netherlands operates a system of pure Proportional Representation with its lower house, the House of Representatives, having 150 seats. Legislators are, therefore, elected from a single nationwide list for each party. There is no percentage cut-off point, so tiny parties can gain seats. The Freedom Party of Geert Wilders garnered 23% of the vote, up from 10% in 2021, giving it 37 seats. This is certainly an impressive result when you consider that the VVD, the party of the outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, only achieved 21.8% of the vote in 2021.
However, it was what happened in second place which is, I think, almost as interesting as Wilders’ “victory.” In 2021, second place was occupied by the center-left liberal D66 on 15% of the vote, while the Labour Party and the Green Party were in sixth and seventh place with 5% of the vote each. In the 2023 election, however, there has been a collapse in support for both the center-left and the center-right and a movement towards the political extremes: polarization. Wilders did best among voters aged 18 to 35, where he scored higher than any other party [Geert Wilders: the anti-Islam leader vowing to ‘put the Dutch first,’ by Andy Bounds, Financial Times, November 24, 2023], but, clearly, many young native Dutch were voting for parties other than the Freedom Party. This was not simply a vote along ethnic lines.
Second place went to an alliance between the Labour Party and the Green Party, which took 15% of the vote, a clear increase for both parties since 2021, when they ran separately. Third place went to the good-government New Social Contract with 12% of the vote, having come from nowhere, while social liberal D66 collapsed from 15% of the vote down to just 6%.
In addition, and for some reason very few outlets outside of the Netherlands have commented on this, DENK (the name means “think” in Dutch and “equal” or balanced in Turkish) held on to its three seats, suggesting that identity politics has come to stay in the Netherlands, albeit only for immigrants, and the beginning of Balkanization.
As with the British Brexit vote, there is also strong geographical polarization. The densely populated Dutch cities strongly voted for the Labour-Green Alliance, which came first in both the Utrecht region and in North Holland. Dutch cities are now heavily minority but, also as in Britain, there are also many appalling white urban Leftists. Rural areas are still, well, Dutch [How Geert Wilders Won by Paul Tullis, NYT, November 28, 2023].
Russian social scientist Peter Turchin has predicted, based on his modelling, that the 2020s should be a period of extreme polarization, not least due to there being an excess of labor. With massive long-term immigration into the Netherlands, this is precisely what we are now seeing.
Of course, it will be difficult for Geert Wilders to form a government in the Netherlands. He requires 76 seats to form a majority and the Labour-Green Alliance have already made it clear that won’t work with him, claiming that he is somehow a danger to “democracy.” As is usual with Dutch coalitions, the negotiations are likely to take many months, during which time the outgoing government will be a caretaker. Wilders may well have to choose between his priorities [Geert Wilders will have to scrap most of manifesto to enter government, say experts, by Jon Henley, Guardian, November 29, 2023].
Geert Wilders (PVV) who won the most seats in last week’s election, will have to sacrifice almost all his far-right manifesto to enter government, analysts say – and even that may not be enough for him to form a new coalition. https://t.co/BbYEllcGjc— dr. Marina (@mmeeuw) November 28, 2023
But after so many years in the political wilderness since he entered the House of Representatives in 1998, Wilders must be glad to have such problems.
Edward Dutton (email him | Tweet him) is Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at Asbiro University, Łódź, Poland. You can see him on his Jolly Heretic video channels on YouTube and Bitchute. His books are available on his home page here.