Why Did a Eurosceptic and Longtime Putin Supporter Win Elections in the Netherlands?

Friday, 24 November 2023

On 22 November, the Party for Freedom (PVV) surpisingly emerged as a big winner in the snap parliamentary elections in the Netherlands. It opposes migrants and, more importantly, military assistance for Ukraine and its EU accession. The scandalous winner of the elections may remain in opposition since a coalition with him is unacceptable for the majority of Dutch parties. However, simply ignoring the voters' decision is also not an option.

The pro-Ukrainian parties are facing a very difficult choice, according to the article by Daria Meshcheriakova, a European Pravda journalist – "Orbán" from The Hague: Can an Opponent of aid to Ukraine become Dutch Prime Minister?

The government in the Netherlands collapsed in early July when the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) of the current Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) failed to reach an agreement with the Christian Union and D66 on strengthening control over migration.

Rutte then surprisingly announced that he was leaving politics. As it later turned out, he wants to run for the position of NATO Secretary-General.

The leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV), controversial far-right populist Geert Wilders, played the migration card and the inability of the current government to agree on the influx of asylum seekers very well.

The New York Times describes Wilders as a long-term "political provocateur" with "hostility to immigrants and Islam."

The leader of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands seeks the country to exit the European Union, calls for the "de-Islamisation" of the Netherlands, and does not want to accept refugees. However, the election results shocked the country.

PVV's victory has already been welcomed by their sympathisers in Europe. For example, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wrote on social media, "A wind of change is already here!" Another friend of Wilders, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, praised his "impressive performance."

German Bild writes about a "political earthquake in the Netherlands."

In Kyiv, they were undoubtedly shaken by the election results in the Netherlands since the country has became a reliable partner and friend of Ukraine during the full-scale invasion.

Although Ukraine was not a topic at the election campaign and did not become a bargaining chip in the political struggle, there is little to expect anything positive from PVV.

Similar to other far-right party leaders in Europe, Wilders expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin, opposing "hysterical Russophobia" in Europe. He even visited Moscow in 2018, meeting Russian officials in the State Duma.

Relatives of Dutch victims of the downed MH17 flight strongly criticised this visit, blaming him for disregarding Moscow's involvement in the tragedy.

But Wilders called the Russian invasion of Ukraine a mistake and preferred distancing himself from it.

However, it is unlikely that a government under his leadership will pursue a policy similar to Rutte's in providing military aid to Ukraine. In particular, However, it is unlikely that a government under his leadership will pursue a policy similar to Rutte's in providing military aid to Ukraine. In particular, Wilders stated that he would not support sending additional weapons to Ukraine, which could lead to a cooling of relations with Ukraine.

So, Ukraine has a few more months to receive all the promised weapons from the Netherlands while a new government is being formed in the country.

There is still a chance though that Wilders will not be in this government.

Over the decade of his aggressive politics, Wilders has made many enemies, and few want to work with him in a coalition.

The far-right PVV leader is a persona non grata for many politicians.

So finding partners for a coalition with Wilders will be tough.

But at the same time, Ipsos research shows that more than a third of respondents prefer a right-wing government, and even more, 36%, believe that PVV should be part of it.

Ignoring these sentiments will not be easy for politicians, which gives Wilders a chance to lead the government.

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