European leaders were relieved Thursday after Liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s victory in the legislative elections in the Netherlands, despite the rise of the far right, which took second place.
“A vote for Europe, against extremists”, commented on Twitter Margaritis Schinas, spokesman of the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Considered a barometer of the rise of populism in Europe, the year of great polls across the continent, the score of controversial MP Geert Wilders is far behind the 36 seats credited in polls a few months ago but also behind his record Of 24 seats in 2010.
Because after having long flirted with the idea of propelling the elected anti-Islam, anti-European Union, anti-immigration and anti-system to the head of the government, Dutch voters opted for stability.
Headed with 33 credited seats, Premier Mark Rutte hailed a victory over what he calls “bad populism”.
Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV), which could have registered its best result since its creation in 2006, won 20 seats according to results compiled by the Dutch news agency ANP, based on 97% of the votes .
Even if the peroxidist elected to govern “if it is possible”, it is unlikely that Mark Rutte will ally with him, several parties, including his having excluded to collaborate with the PVV.
“The fascination is over”
In this coalition country, the main leaders were to discuss on Thursday the organization of the formation of the government at a meeting in the lower house of the Dutch Parliament.
After the surprises of the Brexit in the United Kingdom and the victory of Donald Trump in the American presidential election, these results are “a victory of common sense and a good start for the European electoral season”, analyzed Holger Schmieding, chief economist of The Berenberg bank. Two key polls are to be held, the presidential election in France in April and May and the legislative elections in Germany in the autumn.
“The fascination for right-wing populist parties is over,” Professor Hajo Funke of the Institute of Political Science Otto Suhr told AFP.
“People see that Trump does no good in either the United States or Europe,” he adds. “They see the cost, the potential for economic destruction and in terms of international politics.”
For him, the citizens realized the “destructive chain reaction” that could be triggered by right-wing populism throughout Europe.
French President François Hollande spoke of “a clear victory against extremism”, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to her spokesman, was pleased to “continue good collaboration as friends, neighbors, Europeans “.
A voice difficult to ignore
For Geert Wilders, however, “the genius will not return to the lamp.” And his voice can not be ignored when he should be the main leader of the opposition.
“We were the third largest party in the Netherlands. Now we are the second largest party. Next time, we’ll be No. 1! “He said in a tweet.
With 19 seats each, CDA Christian Democrats and D66 Progressives are natural partners for the Liberals, but such a coalition would need an extra party to get the majority of 76 seats.
The eyes are directed towards the Christians (CU, 5 seats) and the rigorist Protestants of the SGP (3 seats).
But GroenLinks ecologists, led by young and charismatic Jesse Klaver, could also play an important role after tripled their score with 14 seats.
In this fragmented political landscape, with many victorious parties, “it will be difficult for them to negotiate on many issues,” according to political analyst at Leiden University Geerten Waling.
“But I think that in a few months time we will see a center-right government being formed on the basis of these results,” he told AFP.
In his view, “with these elections, there is absolutely no reason to think that there is a political crisis in the Netherlands”.