Netherlands: latest shift to the right in focus

After the election victory of Thierry Baudet's Forum voor Democratie (FVD), the established conservative parties in the Netherlands are seeking ways to win back voters. The right-wing populist party founded in 2016 unexpectedly emerged as the strongest force in regional elections in mid-March. Commentators follow the developments with concern.

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Index (HU) /

Baudet addressing more issues than Wilders

In an interview with Index political scientist Eelco Harteveld takes a look at election winner Thierry Baudet's agenda:

“Contrary to [established right-wing populist] Wilders, who always rambles on about the threat posed by Islam - anything else is just a side dish as far as he's concerned, Baudet moves on a far larger scale. He doesn't like Islam either, but he also has another agenda: exiting the EU, resistance to the power of the elites, more direct democracy through referendums, the fight against degenerate modern culture - all these topics are at least just as important for him. Moreover he has introduced his own theme: his doubts about whether climate change is caused by humans. In other words, Baudet is appealing to a far broader and more heterogeneous electorate.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Don't kowtow to the angry white men

Volkskrant columnist and philosopher Marjan Slob fears that the established parties may be too uncritical in their attitude towards the right-wing populists' voters:

“Anger is not a free pass. Angry white men must realise that their worldview doesn't cut the mustard. ... As for myself, I'm not so angry. What I really feel is fear. Fear of politicians who bow in submission to the anger of snorting white men, and who then use this anger to advance their own agenda. Such politicians only react to strength and loudness. They want to capitalise on the loudmouths. In so doing they forget that their foremost task is to protect society from these very same louts.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Dangerous game with resentment

De Volkskrant is very worried and hopes that the established parties will keep a cool head and stand together:

“Baudet's dangerous game with the votes of his supporters is very worrying. From the crude way in which he blamed the attack in Utrecht on an entire demographic group to his xenophobic triumphal speech on Wednesday evening and his incendiary attacks against journalists, universities, artists and architects 'who are undermining our culture'. This is someone who demands space for his opinions but can't tolerate the opinions of others. In so far as that is concerned Baudet can't be fought hard enough.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Populism difficult to tackle

This is a sign of the fact that populism is spreading in Europe, NRC Handelsblad:

“The 'established' parties are confronted with the umpteenth wake-up call by the dissatisfied electorate. ... The answer to this huge dissatisfaction that the traditional parties have been seeking ever since the rise of [right-wing populist] Pim Fortuyn clearly hasn't been found yet. That's no wonder, because that answer isn't so simple.”