Before the vote actually took place, there was a lot of talk about how the hyper-nationalist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim Dutch politician Geert Wilders was going to be latest beneficiary the global rush to extreme right-wing politics.
A lot of this talk was, to be blunt, fake news, supported by fake analysis, promulgated by Vladimir Putin’s troll factories, and supported by Anglo-American financial contributions, and technical support from some of the same billionaires who underwrote the Presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
Fortunately, Dutch voters didn’t buy it. The predicted Wilders wave was barely a ripple. The silver-haired devil got 13% of the vote, more than he’d ever gotten before, and his PVV, Party for Freedom, did finish second among more than a dozen parties on the ballot, but voters made sure both stayed where they had started from, the very margins of political power.
In a country almost always governed by multi-party coalitions, more than 3 of every 4 voters went for parties which publicly said, they wouldn’t touch Wilders with a 10-foot pole. To put the Wilders surge in context…the PVV added 5 seats to its delegation in Parliament. The Party of the Animals added 3.
Considering the size of their investment, for the digital hackers and professional liars of Putin’s Kremlin and the big-bucks contributors and voter manipulators of of Steve Bannon, Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the election in The Netherlands was something of a Waterloo.
Of course, on the fight card of electoral Europe, the battle of The Netherlands was just a preliminary bout. The main events are coming up in France and Germany.
Once again, there will be several contenders in both rings, and once again right-wing extremists will be getting financial and manipulative assistance from Putin’s Russia and a gaggle of American rightists, and in both France and Germany, the nativist nationalists are likely to far out-poll the Demagogic Dutchman Wilders. But will they win office, or more significant power?
James Kirchick is a fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative in Washington and has written for Foreign Policy,The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, The American Interest, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Columbia Journalism Review, and Prospect. He writes frequently for newspapers including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and Ha’aretz.
Kirchick has worked as a reporter for The New York Sun, the New York Daily News, and The Hill, and has been a columnist for the New York Daily News and the Washington Examiner. His new book, just published by the Yale University Press is The End of Europe: Dictators, Demogogues and the Coming Dark Age.