Well, it looks like there may be hope for Europe yet.
While some commentators expected the increasingly absurd spat between the Netherlands and NATO’s favorite autocrat in Turkey to give Geert Wilders and the PVV a boost into tomorrow’s elections, a last minute poll finds PVV’s support plunging.
The prospect of Geert Wilders emerging as the winner of Wednesday’s Dutch election was thrown into doubt by two polls on the eve of voting that showed his anti-Islam, anti-European Union Freedom Party slumping to fifth place in one survey and third in another.
The final poll from I&O Research showed Wilders’s party on 16 seats in the 150-member lower house of parliament, down four seats from a survey released just the day before. The last Ipsos survey before the election gave the Freedom Party 20 seats, a drop of three from last week. Both polls showed Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals gaining three seats — to 27 and 29 respectively.
The bulk of the polling by both companies was conducted after a diplomatic dispute erupted over the weekend between the Netherlands and Turkey, which Rutte was deemed to have handled well. While polling has a mixed reputation after failing to predict the outcome of the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president, the Dutch findings are the culmination of a trend in the past couple of weeks that has seen Rutte gradually overturning the clear lead that Wilders previously held in the polls.
Quick! Someone put Steve King and David Duke on a plane to fix this situation before it’s too late for Geert.
Anyway, as we get set for what promises to be a raucous Wednesday trade, I thought it worth noting that, as one of our favorite readers reminded us on Tuesday, Wilders and Rutte aren’t the only horses in this race. Here’s what Reuters wrote on Friday:
A boyish 30-year-old who looks like Justin Trudeau and sounds like Barack Obama has emerged as a potential kingmaker in Dutch politics, riding a rare message of tolerance ahead of an election dominated by anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Jesse Klaver, son of a Moroccan father and part Indonesian mother, is expected to turn his tiny Green Left party into one of the main groups in the Dutch parliament in a vote next week that has mostly made headlines because of a far right surge.
The election is mainly billed as a challenge by flamboyant anti-Islam nationalist Geert Wilders to conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has responded by campaigning on proposals for measures to curb immigration.
It is the first big vote in Europe in a year that will also see elections in France and Germany, where the far right is forecast to win its best showings since World War Two.
But with half of Dutch voters still undecided and no party expected to come close to a majority, Klaver has filled a void by speaking for those who yearn for a more inclusive message.
“This year is not only about the election in the Netherlands, but elections in the whole of Europe,” Klaver told a crowd of 5,000 last week. “In the Netherlands, we have to show that populism can be stopped and there is an alternative. That alternative is us.”
Well God bless old (err.. “young”) Jesse and we certainly hope he’s right. “Right” as in “correct.” Not “Right” as in Geert.
On that note, we’ll leave you with a prediction for tomorrow’s all-important ballot from the above-mentioned reader, who has been remarkably prescient when it comes to European politics.
I see you keep on track with your focus on populist strong heads in EuropeThe reason I question this approach has little to do with the politicians in question – after all, clowns are a pleasant distraction from our day-to-day worries …However, it is a bit unfair to leave so little room for the more interesting (and relevant) sort of politicians – they should have at least as much space and attention… should they not ?Anyway, to keep the ball rolling, here is my estimate of tomorrow’s parliamentary vote in the Netherlands
- Mr Wilders will not go much beyond 28 seats – out of 150 – and to reach 30 would be a surprise – the uncertainty relates of course to the unpleasant outbursts of Mr Erdogan on behalf of his Dutch/Turkish constituency
- This result may be branded an ‘achievement’ of the populist movement – it is not and I explained elsewhere how the Dutch parties will reshuffle the board (a bit) and keep negotiating as they always do
- Mr Klaver, heading the Left Green list, will do well, with possibly 20 seats (4 seats in the current Parliament)
- The Prime Minister Mr Rutte – center right – will lose seats but at 30+ seats (41 seats previously) might still come out as the largest party in number of seats; his heady response to Mr Erdogan’s provocations might actually help but no one knows for sureIn summary, with less than 30 seats in Parliament, Mr Wilders will remain largely irrelevant and free to talk his irresponsible talk; if Mr Wilders tops 30 seats and beats Mr Rutte in the number of seats, it will be a victory of sorts for populists (still hardly more than 20% of the popular vote) and it would be advertised as such.However, the more interesting development will be to see how Mr Klaver (Moroccan by his father, Dutch-Indonesian by his mother) sails on his electoral success…At least, I take my chances with this forecast …!