Mar 19, 2017
Commenti disabilitati su DUTCH ELECTIONS


The Green and the Populist

In principle, I can’t help being satisfied with the success of the Left Green Party in the Netherlands, led by Mr. Klaver whose physiognomy makes him a quasi-double of the attractive Canadian PM Trudeau. Klaver’s party won 14 seats (+10) making Leftist Greens the fifth party in the small (150 seats) and fragmented Dutch Parliament which will host 13 groups out of the 28 that took part in the election. One should consider that also the “Animal Rights” party gained three more seats, moving from to 2 to 5. For about ten years now I’ve been maintaining that the only possible alternative to populism is a political platform based on environmental (liberal) values. All over the Western world there is a large generically environmentalist electorate that is not represented in the institutions. It could become the real alternative both to the old and dying establishments and to populisms whose growth is almost untamable with the current tired ideological tools. Sooner or later they will overrun the defensive policy set by all the European states’ establishments as happened with Trump and Brexit. This approach recalls the embarrassing ineffectiveness of the Maginot line vis-à-vis a profoundly changed ideology and military organization. 

Nonetheless, my gratification for the success of the Dutch Left Green Party is quite mild. Klaver’s claim to be “leftist” has helped significantly in drawing votes from the old Labor Party – the real loser in this election (from 38 to 9 seats of the 150 seats available in the Parliament) – but the Green Party’s apparent claim to be leftist might constitute a barrier to its possible further advancement. It implies that its environmentalism on one hand merely overlays old socialist values; on the other, it hinders the inclusion of a large part of a potential electorate that would approve their environmental concern, but refuse their dogmatic leftist approach. Thus, it’s unlikely they can do better in the future and are doomed to be an opposition force. If, by any chance, they ally with Mr. Rutte’s coalition, the Green Party will lose a large part of its electorate.

Of course, I’m also happy that Mr. Wilders’ extreme right wing gained less votes than expected. However, in the general picture, the real winners are the conservatives and Rutte will be able to assemble and lead a governmental patchwork coalition in a month or two. The reigning PM has conducted a campaign which has included some of Wilders’ themes. The ban he imposed on Turkish ministers has moved several votes from Wilders’ potential constituency and its allies’, but has created an international crisis and eventually favored Erdogan’s domestic politics. The Netherlands is a small country, but is highly developed, traditionally open and a supporter of EU. Because of its political system based on proportional representation and the consequent high number of political parties, it also represents a wide range of different opinions and can be an interesting case study about people’s way of thinking which can suggest interesting clues for other EU countries.

Wilders’ success wouldn’t have been a big deal if it had happened only in Holland (or in Austria with Norbert Hofer), but it could provoke a major impact if populists win in France, Germany, UK or Italy. The major worry comes from France whose President has more power than in any other European large country and the administrative system is still very centralized. Italian and German Constitutions strongly limit the PM’s and the majority’s power because they are mindful of past dictatorial experience. Moreover, Italian populists are split into two competing parties, one of which – the Five Star Movement – is anything but subversive. No doubt they are radical in calling for a dramatic change in politics and representation. However, they are different from Wilders, Farrage, Le Pen and the likes, for at least the following reasons: (a) they are so progressive that you may easily blame them of being utopians (and even a little confused); (b) they are not inspired by fascist, nationalist or anti-Islamic feeling; (c) they are very critical about EU as it operates nowadays, but are not against it; (d) they do not question the established institutions and rather they want them to work better; (e) last but not least, their platform largely includes environmental values and they represent almost one third of the Italian electorate. They might represent the future of a radically reformed EU. Hence, no surprise they applied to join ALDE group in the European Parliament. Pity they’ve been refused because old biases against them. Certainly, their alliance with European liberals would have both quickened their (necessary) political evolution and helped in renovating Liberal Parties.