The Dutch press are unanimous in their descriptions of far right leader Geert Wilders’ earthquake victory in the general election. But they also all warn of the difficulties ahead in forming a new coalition.
The Financieele Dagblad says Wilders’ gains are “spectacular” and have turned national politics upside down. “The Netherlands is ending the Rutte era with a spectacular changing of the guard,” the paper said.
The Netherlands’ longest-serving MP – Wilders has been in parliament for 25 years – has delivered a major blow to new VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz who only won 24 seats, the paper says. Rutte, in his 13 years as prime minister, never won fewer than 31.
Trouw too describes the win as a “political earthquake”. “The Netherlands has joined the European right-populist trend,” the paper said on its front page. “The Meloni effect in Italy, in Sweden a right-wing party props up the government coalition. Wilders would appear to have learned from the more moderate tone that Marine Le Pen has adopted in France.”
The AD describes Wilders’s win as “crushing” and says “no one can now avoid the PVV”. But the paper points out the far-right leader again spoke about the “tsunami of refugees” in his victory speech.
And the formation process, the paper said, threatens to be a “real chore” because a right-wing coalition is not a given, thanks to the VVD’s reluctance. And a left-leaning coalition will require at least seven parties to have a majority in the lower house of parliament.
The NRC too points out that forming a new coalition will not be simple. Wilders was able to profit from immigration becoming a theme but the two parties he could both form a coalition with – the VVD and NSC – both earlier ruled out working with him. But, the paper says, a large majority of VVD members have no problem with forming an alliance with the PVV.
“The VVD wanted a campaign about immigration and they got a campaign about immigration,” says the Volkskrant on its front page, which is dominated by a photo of shocked GroenLinks/PvdA voters after the exit poll. “The most anti-immigration party, Geert Wilders’ PVV, booked a mega win.”
The Netherlands “goes to the right” is the headline in the Telegraaf, in giant letters over a photo of Geert Wilders hugging his right-hand man Martin Bosma. The VVD has been punished by voters and is now in a panic about how to deal with its unexpected defeat, the paper said.
“The Netherlands is in crisis,” the paper says in its editorial. “Asylum policy is bankrupt, the housing market has seized up and high energy costs have made it impossible for some to make ends meet. At the same time, our country is becoming a less popular place to do business, healthcare costs are rising and choices have to be made about climate change.”
Now voters have had their say, the paper said. And that means other parties “will have to break their promises about possible coalition partners. That is the only way to put together a coalition with any speed, and given the crises we face, that is exactly what we need.”
The Parool’s cover is dominated by the same photograph of Wilders hugging Bosma. The results, the paper said, are a “sledgehammer blow” to progressive Amsterdam and there were, it said, tears in the eyes of the city’s PvdA leader Marjolein Moorman as the results came in.
“Many of the city’s inhabitants are aware of the track record of a man who …does not believe they should be at home in the Netherlands,” the paper said. “Since the party was founded, Wilders has dismissed a large group of people with ethnic minority roots as second class citizens… he has called for fewer Moroccans and wants a ban on dual nationality, to ban headscarves and close mosques.”
And despite the milder tone he says he has adopted in recent weeks, the paper points out, he said in his victory speech that “the Netherlands must again belong to the Dutch”.
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