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【Global Glance】Netherlands election: The Dutch vote against populism


On 15 March 2017, the people of the Netherlands cast a robust vote against European populism. The Dutch parliamentary elections were widely perceived as an indicator of how high the nationalist and populist tide was rising in Europe after Britain's vote to leave the European Union (EU), commonly known as “Brexit”, and Donald Trump's victory in the U.S presidential election.

The Dutch vote against populism

 Conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte's resounding victory over the far-right populist leader Geert Wilders in the Dutch election  represents a rejection of what Mr Rutte calls “the wrong kind of populism”. Mr Rutte, who is now poised to begin his third term as prime minister, said: “After Brexit, after the U.S. elections, the people have said “no” to another country where the domino stone of the wrong side of populism would topple over.” He succeeded in showing the world that this populist tide can be stopped.


Having scooped the largest number of seats in parliament, Rutte’s People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) is now by far the largest party and will take the lead in forming a new cabinet; while the Eurosceptic Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) gained only five seats, considerably less than polls had suggested. The PVV, which stirred controversy over their anti-immigration, anti-Islamic views and comments, now becomes the second largest party in the parliament.


Although Wilders was defeated in the election, there have been warnings that he and his far-right movement across Europe would not quietly fade away. Nevertheless, there are several civil organizations and NGOs in Europe, one example being the Europe YMCA, which are committed to standing firm against these kind of movements and which aim to bring people together and create inclusion and understanding between people from all nations, religions and ethnic backgrounds.


Later this year, two of Europe’s largest nations, France and Germany, will also hold elections. Next, we will be closely watching the upcoming presidential election in France – the first round will be held on 23 April and, if necessary, a run-off election will be held between the top two candidates on 7 May. French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who wants to leave the European Union and sharply curb immigration, is expected to make a strong showing in this election. We hope that French voters will also choose to reject “the wrong kind of populism.”


International and Mainland Affairs Section, Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong