Two months after Dutch politics were struck by an earthquake, the structure of the next ruling government is yet to be seen. This is nothing new in the Netherlands, as the record for the longest time without forming a government is 299 days.
But first, let us set the stage of the election. The previously mentioned earthquake goes by the name of Geert Wilders, a seasoned politician with right wing populist stances and, of course, his bleached blonde hair. Wilders and his PVV party won 37 out of 150 seats, with 76 seats needed to form a ruling coalition, it would not be an easy task. Prime Minister Rutte's decision not to seek re-election triggered a wave of departures from experienced politicians, setting the stage of the campaign.
Wilders secured a remarkable outcome for the PVV by strategically centering his campaign on key issues like migration, housing, and healthcare. Seizing the opportunity to appeal to center-right voters disappointed by centrist Rutte cabinets, he presented himself as a moderate alternative on the right, toning down his previous anti-Islamic rhetoric. The VVD's decision not to rule out a coalition with the PVV also played a pivotal role, giving the PVV a chance at governing. Geert Wilders potential coalition buddies, like the VVD and the New Social Contract, are a bit scared of some of PVV's proposals, such as mosque closures, deeming them constitutional no-nos. If Wilders leads, expect a toned-down version like Italian Prime Minister Meloni, moderate policies, but a tougher stance on immigration. Climate wise, farmers catch a break, but the EU exit dreams and Putin admiration take a backseat.
Wilders's PVV win fits a growing European pattern where right wing and
anti-immigration parties, seen in France and Germany, gain ground due to concerns over immigration, the Russian-Ukrainian war, and dissatisfaction with ruling parties. Orban took to Twitter to congratulate Wilders with an excerpt of the song "Winds of Change," sharing a common vision for a stricter EU stance on asylum seekers and immigration. Following Slovakia's recent elections, echoing these sentiments, it is evident that EU migration policy is shifting towards a more conservative approach. Brace for new financial arrangements to address refugee concerns, similar to those established with Libya, Tunisia, and Turkey, particularly if the Israel-Hamas conflict forces desperate Palestinian refugees to explore routes to Europe through the Mediterranean.
As support weakens for center-left and green parties in Europe, and center-right parties adopt smarter strategies, finding agreement in the political center is becoming tougher. This complicates the chances of a stable coalition in the European Parliament, especially if right wing parties perform better than expected in the polls. The process of forming a new European Commission is likely to be challenging, although Ursula von der Leyen is still a leading candidate for a second term. This poses significant challenges for EU officials in Brussels.
In Dutch politics, the "informateur" leads coalition talks. Wilders, initially choosing Gom van Strien, faced setbacks due to fraud allegations. Ronald Plasterk, a right leaning former education minister, stepped in. A crucial issue is the VVD split over a law on asylum seekers. Supporters aim for even distribution, while critics foresee local backlash. Despite opposition from coalition leaders, some VVD members, especially in the Senate, supported the law. A poll indicates Wilders gaining from the delay, potentially winning 49 seats, up from 37. Public sentiment favors a coalition involving the four parties, pressuring the VVD to collaborate with the PVV.