Is the Netherlands about to take a big jump to the far-right?

The Journal.ie — March 11, 2017

Dutch riot police face pro-Erdogan protesters outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam. Click to enlarge

Dutch riot police face pro-Erdogan protesters outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam on Saturday March 11, 2017. Click to enlarge

INTEREST IN GLOBAL politics is at somewhat of a peak right now.

In particular, right-wing populism and its impact on politics in a whole host of countries.

It’s why the French presidential elections have been getting such early international attention, and it’s also why global politicos will be looking towards the Netherlands on Wednesday.

The name Geert Wilders will not be new to anyone who pays even a passing interest in European politics, but the anti-Islam candidate’s message has put his Freedom Party (PVV) towards the top of polls.

Paradoxically though, Donald Trump’s policies since the election may have actually hurt Wilders, with the attraction of protest votes giving way to reality.

The PVV were for a brief period leading the pack but have now slipped back in the fragmented race.

Ahead of the French elections, and the equally scrutinised legislative polls in Germany later this year, here’s what to know ahead of Europe’s latest big vote.

How does it work? 

The Dutch vote has essentially come down a race between Wilders and his PVV and outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his Liberals (VVD).

But there are 28 parties — a post-war record — competing for the 150 seats in the Dutch lower house of parliament. A total of 76 seats are needed for a majority.

Thanks to a complex system of proportional representation, even small parties can get seats, enabling them to play an important role in shaping the make-up and viability of the next government.

In fact, all governments in the post-war period have been coalition governments, supported by two or more parties.

Parliamentary seats are attributed according to a complicated formula based on the number of votes cast, which determines that year’s electoral quota.

What are the issues?

The influence of Wilders and the wider European political climate have converged to place immigration and integration at the heart of the debate.

Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the 1940s and its impact has made the issues more pressing.

Wilders has a one-page party manifesto which vows to close the borders to Muslim immigrants, close mosques and ban the sale of the Koran.

Continues …

 

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