Geert Wilders’ victory in the Netherlands sends shockwaves through Europe

Geert Wilders, the controversial hard-right politician, has achieved a surprising victory in the recent general election in the Netherlands. This unexpected win has sparked headlines around the world, with right-wing nationalists in Europe rushing to congratulate him. Wilders, often referred to as the Dutch Trump, due to his distinctive hairstyle and fiery rhetoric, has been under tight police protection since 2004 because of his provocative views. He has linked Muslim immigration with terrorism and called for a ban on mosques and the Quran.

The impact of Wilders’ victory extends beyond the Netherlands, with far-right parties across Europe viewing his success as a sign that their views are becoming more mainstream. Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, declared, “The winds of change are here!” expressing his support for anti-immigration themes and Euroscepticism. Similarly, Tom Van Grieken, leader of the Flemish independence movement in Belgium, sees Wilders’ victory as a precursor to similar breakthroughs in his own country. These endorsements from prominent European right-wing leaders are causing anxiety among Eurocrats.

However, the true extent of Wilders’ success is still unclear. Even he did not expect to win as many parliamentary seats as he did. Dutch voters were drawn to his party for a variety of reasons, including his opponents’ willingness to form a coalition with him, which softened his party’s extremist image. Prior to this, mainstream Dutch politicians had avoided aligning with Wilders because of his extreme positions.

This victory does not automatically grant Wilders the position of prime minister, as he does not have enough seats to form a government on his own. Extensive political negotiations lie ahead, and Wilders will likely need to compromise on his policies to gain support. If he does become prime minister, European Union (EU) leaders’ summits could become more tense, as Wilders has actively campaigned for the Netherlands to leave the EU. While this idea is not popular among most Dutch voters, he may push for a “Nexit” referendum regardless.

The EU is concerned about maintaining unity, particularly in supporting Ukraine after Russia’s invasion. However, Wilders, along with leaders of Hungary and Slovakia, opposes sending more military aid to Kyiv. His stance on migration and asylum policies aligns with other right-wing leaders who prioritize the interests of their own countries. These leaders advocate for a hardline approach on EU migration and security, emphasizing their nations’ needs.

Despite Wilders’ victory, it is important to note that not all hard-right parties are experiencing the same level of success across Europe. Poland’s Law and Justice Party recently lost a general election, and Spain’s Vox Party did not perform as well as predicted. In the Netherlands, a joint ticket between Labour and the Greens had a strong showing. Nonetheless, migration and cost of living remain significant concerns for voters across Europe. Parties with anti-immigration stances are exerting political pressure on mainstream parties, leading them to adopt stricter positions on immigration and security. This trend can be observed in France, Germany, and Austria, among other countries.

In conclusion, Geert Wilders’ surprise victory in the Netherlands has sparked attention throughout Europe. While some support his anti-immigration and Eurosceptic views, it is important to recognize that not all far-right parties are achieving the same level of success. Nevertheless, this election outcome highlights the growing influence of nationalist, populist movements and their impact on European politics. The EU should not disregard Wilders’ victory as it serves as a barometer for shifting political winds and attitudes towards immigration across the continent.