Beating Populists

Lessons from the Dutch Vote

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Dutch election outcome could impact the presidential vote in France in April and May and parliamentery vote in Germany in September.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals party remained the biggest party in the Netherlands, while Geert Wilders’s anti-E.U. Freedom Party did not grow as much as expected.
    • In France, the right-wing National Front party led by Marine Le Pen is still doing well in the polls, though a first-place finish seems less likely.
    • E.U. leaders fear that a strong showing of populist parties could threaten Europe’s stability and diminish its standing globally.
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    Audio

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main 78762911 source AP – anti-Wilders protestors cheered the Dutch election outcome on Thursday in front of parliament in The Hague
Anti-Wilders protestors welcomed the Dutch election outcome on Thursday, standing in front of the Lower House parliament building in The Hague. Source: AP

The relief has been quite evident: The electoral victory of the current prime minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, has allowed politicians throughout Europe to breathe a sigh of relief.

“I believe it was a good day for democracy,” Angela Merkel said Thursday, a day after the vote. French President François Hollande spoke of a “clear victory against extremism,” and the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, also had words of praise: “A large majority of the people of the Netherlands voted in favor of the values for which Europe stands: free and tolerant societies in a prosperous Europe.”

The conservative-liberal Mr. Rutte celebrated his victory and said the Netherlands had stopped the trend of rising populism in Europe by preventing Geert Wilders’ right-wing Freedom Party from becoming the strongest political force in the country.

Why so much attention? Because Mr. Rutte’s victory over Mr. Wilders, who had wanted to take the Netherlands out of the European Union, may offer lessons for presidential elections in France in April and May and general elections in Germany in September.

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