Wilders loses whatever happensby Guido Bolaffi - 2017.03.16
If discussing the outcome of an election before knowing the results may be risky, it undoubtedly forces you to rack your brains and reflect on the case in point. Particularly in a case such as that of the voting just started in Holland whose outcome is a foregone conclusion, contrary to the fears and hopes of many, as we explain below.
Whatever the outcome Geert Wilders and his crazed xenophobic and anti-Europe populism is in fact destined not to win and will be notably downsized. Creating a “reverse avalanche” effect on the dreams of glory of the other continental populists lead by Marine Le Pen & Co. A claim that may appear risky to say the least given the can-can of predictions devoted by half the world’s media to today’s election in the Netherlands. A virtual climate of collective anxiety that attentive analysis in the field shows to be rather unjustifiable. For two reasons at least.
The first pertains to the Dutch electoral system. That based on an ultra-proportional system (a party needs only 0.7% of the vote to enter Parliament) will not permit any of the players a sufficient number of elected representatives to govern independently. The reason that even if Wilders were to gain a few percentage points and, rather improbably, supersede the threshold of 24 members gained in the super-performance of 2009, he would need 96 to impose his programme and govern on his own! A populist party such as his and a coalition government are, however, worlds apart. To gain power a populist movement must destroy rather than exploit the electoral model in which it operates. Whether this is ultra-proportional, such as the Dutch system or ultra-first-past-the-post such as that in France. A system that, not surprisingly, forces the Le Pen National Front to keep on hold fruitlessly the 6 million votes that it has regularly attained for twenty years.
The second reason is cultural. Regardless of how dramatic the transformations following mass immigration have been along with the political dramas that have played out in Amsterdam and its surroundings, the Dutch population is not, despite Wilders’ thinking, dominated by anger but rather by melancholy. A state that can provoke depression and spiritual crisis but not the malice required to kill off a centuries-old history of liberty and civility.
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