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Article published on the internet on March 16, 2017.

Dutch Elections 2017

Erdogan's drive to campaign in the Netherlands was cleverly used by the Dutch conservative party to win the general elections on March 15, 2017

The conservative party of Mark Rutte (VVD) lost but is yet the largest political party with 32 seats of the 150. VVD and Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) are the two reigning parties since 2012.
The Dutch Labour Party was decimated and now only has 9 seats left. It had to pay for being part of the coalition with the Dutch conservatives, also because of its prominently loud leader, the inner political culture of the party, and above all because the integration of emigrants continues to fail.

Geert Wilders and his PVV (Freedom Party) did not win the 30+ seats as was feared by many, but if compared to 4 years ago he gained 6 seats and the PVV is now the second largest party in parliament (20 seats).

Then there is Jesse Klaver, son of a Moroccan father who left his Dutch-Indonesian wife early so Jesse (whose real name is Yasser Feras) was raised by his grand parents and his mother of course. Klaver leads the Green Party and has a somewhat similar appeal as Justin Trudeau has. His party gained 10 seats and has now 15 seats. For a large part his supporters are the young who could vote for the first or second time. His policies mean higher taxes what many do not realize.

New is 'Forum for Democracy', a right wing party that wants to give significance to voting special issues by referendum and wants directly elected mayors and not appointed by the political parties.

There are other parties that won significantly, like the Christian Democrats (CDA) led by Sybrand van Haersma Buma and the Conservative Democrats (D'66) with Alexander Pechtold as leader.

DENK, the party founded by Turkish and Moroccan leaders, confirmed its position in parliament in this election with 3 seats. However the party did not want to participate in one of the final debates and that for obvious reasons. They would have been asked what their standpoint was concerning the refusal by Mark Rutte of letting the Turkish secretary to campaign for the Turkish political system in the Netherlands. And that would have been certainly somewhat awkward for DENK.

Things could have been different if the 'Turkey affair' had not interfered and influenced the developments in the last days of the election.
The reason that the Freedom Party did not win more seats is because Mark Rutte was assertive in his refusal to allow the Turkish Secretary of State to campaign in the Netherlands for Recep Erdogan's referendum to change the Turkish constitution so Erdogan will have more power. Erdogan repeatedly compared the Dutch with nazis. But Rutte kept a firm stance which resulted in pro Erdogan demonstrations by citizens with a Turkish background and police had to end the demonstration when they reached a high level of violence.

That made Sybrand Buma the leader of the Christian Democrats (CDA) propose during the last days of campaigning that the dual nationality should be abolished. By saying this he annexed an original point of Wilders who has been saying for years on end that he is against dual citizenship. Then Sybrand Buma was asked if Queen Maxima should renounce the Argentine nationality. That was a difficult question. However there must have been quite a number of people voting for the Christian Democrats instead of Wilders (PVV).

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If the Turkish affair would not have happened, for example if the Turks would have planned to come after the elections, or Mark Rutte would have allowed Turkish government officials to come to Rotterdam to campaign for Erdogan's referendum, the VVD certainly would have lost more seats and the PVV would have won a higher number of seats. So Mark Rutte's strategy was well calculated from day one on.

In the last week of campaigning the media all of a sudden kept repeating the message that Wilders (PVV - Freedom Party) was loosing its leading position in the polls. Images showed a loss of a few seats and that made Mark Rutte's VVD the largest party in the polls. But initially the loss was not very significant.
Of course this was more or less caused by the firm stance Mark Rutte took in the affair with Turkey.
However the message was repeated in practically every broadcast and at times it often served as the opening statement in the news on radio and television: "Wilders is loosing in the polls". The question is whether this was done deliberately and thus can even be qualified as 'fake news' or 'alternative facts'. In any case it became a self fulfilling prophesy.

Now Mark Rutte is the celebrated champion who defeated the so called "wrong populism" (whatever that may be... is there a "right populism", a populism that is OK?). The developments in the Netherlands will have consequences for the political field in France (in May) and Germany (in September). However the extend of it remains to be seen.

Article published on the internet on March 16, 2017.



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