News & Views - Nieuws & Meningen


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 in parliament with 32 of the 150 seats. VVD and Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) were the two reigning parties since 2012.

In this election 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 (VVD), and also because of its prominently loud leader, the inner political culture of the party, and above all because the integration of immigrants continues to fail.

Geert Wilders and his PVV (Freedom Party) did not win the 30+ seats as was indicated in the polls and was feared by many, but if compared to 4 years ago Wilders won another 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 millennials who voted for the first time, and the young who could vote for a second or third time. His policies mean higher taxes and open borders, what many do not realize.

New is 'Forum for Democracy' (FvD), a right wing party that wants to give significance to voting special issues by referendum and wants directly elected mayors and not being appointed by the political parties in more or less secret negotiations. Furthermore the party line is that the Dutch people should be proud of their cultural heritage.

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 politicians, 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 politicians to campaign in the Netherlands for the Turkish political system. Obviously DENK would have lost votes if it had agreed with Mark Rutte.

Things could have been different for VVD if the Erdogan would have interfered and had influenced the developments in the last days just before the election took place.
The reason that the Freedom Party did not win more seats is because PM Mark Rutte was assertive in his refusal to allow the Turkish government officials to campaign at a meeting of Dutch citizens with a Turkish background. Recep Erdogan wanted these people to vote for the referendum to change the constitution in order to give Erdogan more power. But Mark Rutte kept a firm stand. Furious Erdogan repeatedly compared the Dutch to Nazis. Rutte's standpoint resulted in pro Erdogan demonstrations and police had to end the demonstrations 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 Geert 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. Well, Buma said, that this was a difficult question. The result however must have been that quite a number did vote Christian Democrats (CDA) instead of Wilders (PVV).

Initially the Turks were asked to come to the Netherlands after the elections were over. And they agreed. But Mark Rutte was smarter and on the last day prior to the elections he announced that there was some threatening by members of the Turkish government and Rutte decided that the Turks were no longer welcome, not even after the Dutch elections had taken place. That was a clever move. If 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 could have been the overall winner. So Mark Rutte's strategy was well calculated and it delivered results.

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 not whether this was done deliberately because it is suspected that it was, and thus the message can 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" (= policies based on facts and statistics). 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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