Dutch elections: Success for moderate and left political parties

By following the headlines and reports from the news agencies one would hardly think that the right-wing VVD party of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte lost a fifth of its electorate, falling from 41 seats to 33 in the 150-seat parliament. His Labor coalition partner nearly vanished, plunging from a provisional 38 seats to 9. The two governing parties fell from 79 seats in the 2012 elections to 42 today.

Biased coverage based on the media’s own headlines

Most of the coverage of the Dutch elections focused on the media’s own hype-reporting combined with the wishful thinking of the politicians concerned. For instance, the electoral coverage of the AP first cites Prime Minister Mark Rutte as “having claimed a dominating parliamentary election victory over anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders”. The next AP news item reports that: “French President Francois Hollande congratulated Rutte on his election success” and quotes Amsterdam Free University political scientist Andre Kouwel: “I mean this is your electoral campaign dream, right? You can’t script this if it was a movie.” The article concludes that “the prime minister is likely to look to the right for new coalition partners”.

However the only parties to the right of the prime minister are Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party and the right-wing Christian SGP (3 seats).

Below are the provisional results of the 2017 Dutch parliamentary elections:

2012 – 2017

VVD (right-wing – privatization)
from 41 to 33
PVV (Geert Wilders – nationalistic)
from 15 to 20
CDA (Christian Democrats – moderates)
from 13 to 19
D66 (Democrats – blow with the wind)
from 12 to 19
SP (working man’s old-fashioned Socialists)
from 15 to 14
GL (Green Left – lelft-wing environmentalist)
from 4 to 14
PvdA (former Labor – now favors privatization)
from 38 to 9
CU (Christian Union – moderate religious Christian)
from 5 to 5
PvdD (animal rights)
from 2 to 5
50-plus (liberally oriented lobbyists for people reaching pension age)
from 2 to 4
SGP (right-wing Christian)
from 3 to 3
DENK (Think – trendy progressive)
from 0 to 3
Forum voor Democratie (conservative libertarian)
from 0 to 2

Implications for Israel

The focus of the elections was dominated by the rise of nationalism and friction between the Netherlands’ mostly secular Dutch population and immigrants from non-Western countries and their offspring. Since the right-wing VVD party managed to capture many of the nationalistically oriented voters and last-minute deciders, the election results did not indicate any sort of clear-cut trend. Many moderate and left-wing parties made substantial gains, which will make the formation of a new coalition government extremely difficult.

Since many migrant and ‘progressive’ political streams are not friendly towards Israel, Jerusalem may face difficulties when it comes to relations with the next coalition government. Few people in the Netherlands know anything about the situation in Israel.

About the Author
Asaf Shimoni is an author, journalist and translator who returned to Israel on October 1, 2023 after spending more rhan 40 years abroad, most of them in the Netherlands. He is currently milking cows on a kibbutz after living for five months in Haifa. He grew up near Boston, made aliyah while living on a kibbutz (from 1973 to 1976), and graduated from Syracuse University in 1978. He also lived some 5 years in Sicily. He believes that the media should be as critical and truthful as possible.
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