A Closely Watched Election In Netherlands

Mar 16, 2017 By Matt B, Young Editor
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Imagine this: a man running for the leadership of a country is slowly building support. He attacks immigration and wants to return his country to its glory days. He wants to rebuild the economy and put his country first. Throughout his campaign he attacks minority groups.

Does this sound like President Trump? It’s not. This man’s name is Geert Wilders and his conservative party has been gaining popularity in Netherlands.

In elections held this week, the Dutch people have once again chosen Prime Minister Mark Rutte's ruling Democratic party. Many European countries that had been closely following the elections in Netherlands, are relieved at the outcome. Prime Minister Rutte's party will have to partner with smaller parties to get the majority seats in Parliament to form a Government (known as coalition government). 

However, the rise of Geert Wilder's party to become the second largest in the country is a signal that things are changing in Europe and around the world.

The Rise Of The Right

In politics, rightright-wing and rightist are refer to people or beliefs that support traditional structures in society, and less involvement by the government in the country's economy. Leftleft-wing and leftists are terms used to describe people or beliefs that support social change (or reform) to create more equality in the society and believe that government can help by participating in the economy.

Geert Wilders popularity has not come as a surprise to many. This past summer, Great Britain held a referendum over whether to stay in the European Union or not. As the votes came in, 51% of British citizens voted to leave the European Union. Right-wing or conservative parties claim the EU has forced laws and regulations which do not help the United Kingdom.

However, the conservative movement didn’t begin this past summer. In autumn of 2014, leftist Sweden was shocked. An ultra-right wing party, Sverigedemokraterna, became the third largest party in a heavily left-leaning country. In the United States, right wing politicians took control of Congress. In India, Narendra Modi took power. Two years later, right wing candidate Donald Trump has won the US elections. Other right wing candidates in France, Germany, and now the Netherlands face a possible win.

What Has Caused This?

Many believe globalization to be the reason. Globalization refers to a connected world, where countries and people interact with each other in trade, finance and technology.

While globalization has shown our similarities, it has also highlighted our cultural differences and this has made many people less trusting of foreigners. Economically, globalization has concentrated wealth in mainly Western countries. Many people do not feel globalization has benefited them, and that their country has been exploited by other countries. A perfect example is President Trump blaming China for taking American jobs.

Conservative right-wing parties have recently come to the rescue and claim they will help slow down globalization and believe countries should take care of themselves first. These beliefs have propelled conservatives into many places of power, specifically in the US and UK.

Will this trend continue? With Germany and France going to the polls later this year and the rise of right wing parties in both countries, all eyes will be on Europe.