Courtesy & Thanks To: Rory Broomfield& CommentCentral-UK
March 16, 2017
Holland: populism lives, socialism dies
The results of the Dutch election don’t point to the death of populism – they point to both its growing influence and the death of the left.
Those watching the BBC news this morning with titles such as “Dutch election: PM celebrates ‘rejection of populism’” would be forgiven for thinking that there was a clean sweep by the ruling party in the Netherlands during yesterday’s election. I’m afraid that nothing is as far from the truth.
Instead, it seems likely that the PVV, the party headed by Geert Wilders, will have increased the number of seats it holds in the Dutch House of Representatives from five to 20, making it the second party in the new parliament. Indeed, the ruling party, the VVD, did gain the highest number of seats (33) but lost eight, with other parties such as the Christian Democrats and a party called Democrats 66 both due to take 19 seats respectively. This, along with the cross-spread of other seats that will see a total of 13 parties taking up seats in the new Dutch Parliament, means that power will be diffused.
What is interesting though is how the socialist party fared in this election. Despite the headlines and focus on Geert Wilders and his party, the real story is the decline in the vote for the Dutch Labour Party (the PvdA). Having seen a high of 38 seats in the old parliament, the Dutch Labour Party is due to lose 29 seats and take only nine in the new parliament. This marks an extraordinary fall. It also mirrors an evolving trend across Europe: the slow death of the left.
Whether it be in the Netherlands, the UK under Corbyn, or elsewhere, the left across Europe is in trouble. For too long they have chosen to ignore their core voters to pursue the whims of a metropolitan elite. As a result, this may prove to be just the first of a long-list of socialist failures that mark the slide of the labour movement into the dustbin of electoral history.
Increasingly voters are rejecting the status quo to try something new. They are voting for parties that address their core concerns, which have traditionally been ignored by the traditional mainstream of political parties.
But whilst the left is ignoring these concerns, parties on the right and the centre-right have adapted.
Take the Conservative Party in the UK, for example. Instead of ignoring the will of the people, expressed first through the EU Parliament elections in 2014 and then the EU referendum last year, they changed their policies to suit. As a result, the Labour Party has found itself floundering ever since as they struggle to find meaning in a new world where populism (democracy) is to be respected rather than brushed aside and ignored.
It has meant the policies advocated by many other parties, such as UKIP, have been adopted by the Conservative Party. It has also meant that despite their inability to take seats and government jobs at the parliamentary level, both UKIP and those Conservative MPs that didn’t share the views of the Cameroons were able to influence the party’s policies and get the results that they – and the rest of the country – wanted.
This lead to the 2015 General Election win for the Conservative Party, and both an EU Referendum and subsequent change of policy due to the people of the UK voting ‘Leave’. It meant that although we had a Prime Minister that supported ‘Remain’ during the EU Referendum, both she and her government are successively leading the UK out of the European Union. In doing so, it shows that although these ‘populist movements’ aren’t gaining as many seats as they would have liked in parliaments across the continent, they are having a tremendous influence on policy. Putting it another way: although many of the elites are still driving the cars, these so-called ‘populists’ are reading the map, giving directions and changing the route.