Good news on Europe

There is some good news in the results of the Dutch elections for the European parliament, writes Robin Pascoe.

There is some good news in the results of Thursday’s Dutch elections for the European parliament.
For a start, despite, the upward march of Geert Wilders’ PVV, which took around 17% of the vote, over eight out of 10 people did not vote for his anti-Islam, anti-European party. And as only 37% of the total population bothered to exercise their democratic results at all, his actual support is very small indeed.
In Rotterdam, seen as his biggest urban stronghold, just 29% of the population turned out to vote, and of them, just 22% voted for him. Hardly an overwhelming victory.
The PVV was also the biggest party in The Hague – an embarassing result for a city which likes to portray itself as the centre of peace and justice.
But in Amsterdam, Wilder’s party was in fourth place – and the pro-European Liberal Democrats and left-wing greens GroenLinks rule the roost. The picture is similar in Utrecht.
So despite the four – or possibly five – seats that the PVV will take up in Brussels, only a small fraction of his potential supporters actually bothered to vote for him.
And he failed to do what several polls had predicted: overtake the Christian Democrats to become the biggest party in the country. Given the massive amount of publicity he has had over the past few weeks, that could be construed as surprising. But it does mean by far and away most Dutch people are not xenophobes who want to knee-cap football hooligans and ban the Koran.
The other piece of good news is that the pro-Europeans won. Well under half of the Netherlands 25 seats have gone to avowedly anti-European parties – the PVV and Socialists. The biggest pro-Europeans – D66 and GroenLinks have doubled their representation and take six seats between them – more than Wilders.
As for the established parties – the coalition government and the free-market Liberals – they have been given a serious warning. Labour in particular has been punished for its invisible campaigning and mixed message.
The bad news of the night is that Europe is still a massive voter turn-off. Only 37% of us bothered to vote, and that is a big win for voter apathy.
Robin Pascoe is a founder of

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