When the Party for Freedom (PVV) surprised the polls last time, practically the entire press, including the Brazil in fact, reported that the far right had won in the Netherlands. The news caused surprise, due to the fact that the Netherlands has been under the management of the moderate liberal right for 13 years and the country is known for its progressive and avant-garde initiatives. However, if we treat it as the Netherlands, instead of the Netherlands, the news becomes less shocking.

Strictly speaking, the Netherlands is just a part of the country, whose correct name is Netherlands (in English, Netherlands). Just to draw an illustrative parallel, it’s like calling the United Kingdom (correct name of the country) England (name of part of it).

The Netherlands itself, which corresponds to the provinces of North Holland (where Amsterdam is located) and South Holland (where The Hague and Rotterdam are located), concentrates economic, financial and political power. The interior of the Netherlands, where the medium-sized and smaller cities are located, is more conservative and religious.

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Throughout the country, but particularly in this more provincial part, the idea that the culture and history of its people is on the defensive and needs to be valued has gained currency in recent times; that it is not the role of a ruler to publicly apologize for slavery, as Prime Minister Mark Rutte did, because this undermines the heroism of a people with a long history of conquests around the world; that the well-being of the native Dutch should not be reduced by the need to welcome immigrants. All this in the context of manipulating the feeling that there is no future, the lack of prospects.

The ideas above are from the Italian-Dutch (ops, Dutch) Giorgio Romano Schutte, professor of International Relations and Economics at UFABC and member of the Observatory of Foreign Policy and International Insertion of Brazil (OPEB). “Remember that the most famous word in the world is a Dutch word: apartheid”, he says, in this interview with Brazil in fact to analyze the result and developments of last Wednesday’s election (22), when the extreme right practically doubled its presence in Parliament and won the right to form the next government.

What will be the impact of excellent voting from the extreme right inside and outside the Netherlands?

It’s still too early to know what the result will be because we don’t know if he will be able to form a government. In any case, we are in a phase of rise of the extreme right, with ups and downs. At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, traditional political parties regained credibility and the radical right lost its voice. But in the next moment, with the impact of the war in Ukraine on inflation, the radical right resumed its protagonism, gaining momentum in several countries. Even so, in the Netherlands, the radical right party won 23.7% of the vote. More than 22% did not go to vote, so of the 77% who went to vote, only a quarter voted for him. So, it’s not a huge mass of the population. It’s an expressive vote, it’s surprising, but you have to put it in perspective. He jumped from 20 to 37 deputies in the Chamber of Deputies, out of a total of 150. His victory gives a boost, gives morale to other far-right parties in Europe. We will have elections in Portugal and France. (Giorgia) Meloni (in Italy) feels less isolated.

Do you think that Geert Wilders (PVV leader and likely future prime minister) Will you be able to form a government?

It is the first time that the liberal right has publicly declared, before the elections, that it could be the case of governing together with the radicals. This gave a very large margin for the far right to advance. Before, people didn’t vote for the extreme right, thinking it was a wasted vote, that the party would be isolated as always. But with the signal from the liberal right, which governed the country for years, it was an important psychological factor for the population to vote for that party. So there is relative ease in forming a government, but how this will be done remains to be seen.

(This Monday, the 27th, the observer appointed by Wilders to try to put together a coalition, Gom van Strien, resigned, which seems to signal difficulties for the negotiations.)

Wilders criticizes what he calls the “Islamic invasion” and says that thehe Dutch hope to reclaim their country and ensure that the “tsunami” of asylum seekers and immigration subsides. Why does a politician with this type of reasoning get such a significant vote in a country like the Netherlands? What factor(s) in the current context Can you help explain this?

Insecurity, the welfare state, the idea of ​​recovering Dutch values, the well-being of the Netherlands, and embedded in this is the idea of ​​ejecting what comes from outside, mainly from Islam. Although in this election he emphasized much more material welfare issues, such as low-income housing and retirement – Wilders advocates lowering the minimum age from 67.5 to 65 years old —eThis theme has to do directly with the idea of ​​containing immigration and its influences.

The Netherlands, a country whose economic situation is traditionally stable, saw consecutive reductions in GDP in the first two quarters of 2023, with drop in exports e worsening of family consumption. Does this have anything to do with the election result?

More recent economic problems do not explain the result. It has more to do with an idea that Dutch culture is on the defensive, with the fact that the liberal right-wing prime minister apologized for slavery, for the Dutch involvement in the slave trade, and then polls show that almost 60 % of the population thinks they shouldn’t do this because it’s water under the bridge, that those who live today have nothing to do with it. Wilders mobilizes this idea that we have to stop attacking historical heroes, these “Dutch Bandeirantes” who went out into the world doing looting, piracy… All of this then has to do with defending culture, the country’s history, and reducing migrations.

Wilders minimized the importance of climate change during the campaign / Sem van der Wal / ANP / AFP

The Netherlands is a traditionally avant-garde country and receptive to innovative, progressive and countercultural ideas. To cite the most notorious examples, we have the freedom to consume drugs and the enormous infrastructure that prioritizes the circulation of bicycles to the detriment of motorized vehicles. What explains a country like this embarking on a reactionary and xenophobic wave?

This avant-garde, innovative Netherlands is Amsterdam. So much so that you talk about Holland, which is just a part of the Netherlands. Wilders won in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, he came fourth, with 9.5%, and the left won with 34%. For the first time, the center-left and part of the radical left came together, created a single list and won. In the country as a whole, they came in second place, ahead of the liberal right. So, Amsterdam continues to have these characteristics that you mentioned and resists the advance of the extreme right. Note that precisely in large cities, where immigrants coexist with the population, the anti-immigrant far right did not have a significant vote as it did in smaller cities in the interior.

Despite his racist history, Wilders declared in the campaign that he wants to be a prime minister for everyone. Is this just to win the election or can he really soften his proposals (something that Milei seems to be doing in Argentina)?

Wilders had already changed his tone in relation to the last elections, emphasizing less the issue of the crusade against Islam and more the defense of the well-being of the Dutch, of standing up against the fear of insecurity. Xenophobia is embedded in this more general issue. Along with this, there is the prospect of being able to govern with the liberal right, with a possible new center-right party. He needs these votes, so he cannot be too radical because he knows that without parliamentary support, he will not be able to govern.

Is there a chance that the Netherlands will start a movement to leave the European Union?

This is not on the agenda, nor is leaving the eurozone. What these parties want is to reduce the centralization of political power in Brussels (headquarters of the European Union) and reform the European Union, not end it.

Wilders’ victory comes in the wake of advances by the far right in several European countries, such as Sweden and Finland, where radicals are part of the government; Poland and Hungary, with ultranationalist and authoritarian governments; Italy, where Meloni rules for a party with neo-fascist roots; France, where Le Pen is well placed to try to come to power; in Greece, where three radical right parties won enough seats to enter parliament; in Spain, where Vox exceeded expectations in regional elections and won almost 10% of Congress; in Germany, the AfD is on the rise. What is happening? Is it a protest vote, above all, or are voters really willing to live radical experiences and live with radical right-wing governments?

We are living in a time when the idea of ​​systemic chaos in the world is approaching, with enormous difficulty in maintaining hegemony and perspectives. There are the wars in Ukraine, in Gaza. The issue of energy prices also weighs heavily. Wilders explored a lot of fatigue regarding climate change discourse. He says climate change is a natural process. People are tired of hearing that they need to stop using gas and oil, because they see that when there is no gas and oil, there is chaos. The price increases, people are afraid of energy insecurity, so there is a reflection to be made on how to guarantee social peace in order to create an energy security policy that takes the distributive issue into account.

Editing: Leandro Melito

Source: www.brasildefato.com.br

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