The Dutch political establishment appeared Wednesday to fend off a challenge from anti-Muslim firebrand Geert Wilders, according to initial vote counts, a victory in a closely watched national election that heartened centrist leaders across Europe who are fearful of populist upsets in their own nations.Note that Wilders STILL picked up a seat or two, and there is another story to this election:
The result was embraced by other leaders inside and outside the Netherlands as a major blow to anti-immigrant populism, breaking a streak of disruption that started with the Brexit vote and continued with the election of Donald Trump, a skeptic of European integration. Instead, as the Netherlands’ famed tulip season gets underway, Prime Minister Mark Rutte will remain in office as he tries to form a coalition.
The vote in the prosperous trading nation was seen as a bellwether for France and Germany, which head to the polls in the coming months and have also been shaken by fierce anti-immigrant sentiment.
Wilders nose-dived in recent weeks after topping opinion polls for most of the past 18 months, as Dutch voters appeared to turn away from an election message that described some Moroccans as “scum” and called for banning the Koran and shuttering mosques.
Wednesday is “an evening where the Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said no to the wrong kind of populism,” Rutte told a cheering crowd in The Hague. He said he had already spoken to other European leaders to accept their congratulations.
With 84 percent of the voting districts reporting results early Thursday, Rutte’s center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy remained the largest party, but it was on track to lose nearly a quarter of its seats in parliament, forcing the prime minister to form a new, broader coalition across the political spectrum. His coalition partner, the center-left Labor Party, was wiped out as a political force, a punishing blow in response to cooperation with a longtime rival that had a sharply different approach to the core issues of working citizens.(emphasis mine)
This is something that happens time and time again: The "Center Left" gets wiped out, and to my mind, there is a simple reason for this: as the consensus has moved rightward with the general adoption of the so called "Washington Consensus," the Center-Left has followed this consensus, and under those conditions, it can simply not deliver.
This is worse in Europe, because the EU, and even more so the Euro, are not just conservative institutions, but reactionary institutions, which favor capital over labor and finance over all, and the mainstream "left" in Europe is so wedded to the EU that they are effectively political conservatives.
To paraphrase Harry S Truman, people will chose a real conservative over a fake one every day of the week.
My hope is that that the far left prevails rather than the far right, but betting on the left getting its sh%$ together is a sucker bet. and history shows that the center right and center left will hitch their wagon to fascists before they partner with the real left..