What will the new government bring for the Netherlands?

The new right-wing four-party coalition in the Netherlands has announced plans to introduce "the strictest asylum law ever". For farmers, however, there will be fewer environmental regulations under the new government programme. The coalition agreement is proof that many things will change, the leader of the right-wing populist PVV, Geert Wilders, stressed. Commentators discuss the wider implications.

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NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

A godsend for the far right

Europe should be worried, warns NRC columnist Michel Kerres:

“The agreement exudes an oppressive nationalism. Wilders said on Thursday: 'I promise the Netherlands: the Netherlands will belong to us once more.' This immediately brought to mind the unfortunate Brexit slogan: 'Take back control'. In any case, it certainly isn't an invitation to cooperate with the EU. But the most important signal that The Hague is sending to Europe is that it is possible for a radical right-wing troublemaker to seize power in a prosperous country with a rich democratic tradition. On the eve of the European elections, a beaming Wilders is a godsend for all campaigners of the radical right.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

...and in the end Brussels will be blamed again

This will not end well, De Volkskrant is convinced:

“This policy will run aground. First in Brussels, where it will become clear that European asylum policy cannot work like this. Then in national and European courts, which will enforce immigration and environmental rules. And with a view to the next election campaign, the blame will then fall on the damned judges and big bad Brussels. This is how populism feeds itself.”

L'Opinion (FR) /

Where are the cries of dismay?

Reactions to the right-wing governing coalition in the Netherlands have been far too muted compared to when this happened in other countries, complains L'Opinion:

“There have been no attempts at a pan-European boycott, as there were when the very young and very right-wing Sebastian Kurz and his extremist ministers took over the government in Austria. No howling or pressure like there was when the Hungarian Viktor Orbán led his country down the path of the most radical populism. No trembling or strong emotions like when Giorgia Meloni came to power in Rome. Is everyone just getting used to this? It's true that the sulphurous Geert Wilders has pledged not to head the government. But will that be enough to erase the rough edges of his programme?”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

A pan-European trend

Right-wing populist parties are becoming increasingly popular among young people, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung observes:

“Are the dykes breaking in the Netherlands? Is this the beginning of what many fear could happen across Europe: a takeover by right-wing populists that undermines the fundamental values of liberal democracy? ... In many European countries the trend is heading in this same direction. And more and more young people (including an above-average number of men) are voting for far-right parties. We see this in the success of the Chega party in Portugal, in the current poll ratings for Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement and also in Flanders, where over a third of young voters have said they will vote for Vlaams Belang in June.”

Le Soir (BE) /

This needn't set a precedent

Le Soir points to alternatives to the Dutch model:

“If the example of The Hague isn't exactly one that inspires dream, there are other, more glorious ones. Portugal's right has just turned down the far right, even at the risk of having to form a very uncomfortable minority government. And other liberals in the European Parliament are rejecting any compromising alliance from the outset. We can only hope that after any electoral success for parties that have turned selfishness and rejection of others into a successful industry there will still be men and women who reject this 'normality' and look beyond the dykes.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

New elections unattractive for almost all parties

This is a political experiment, De Volkskrant comments:

“The lack of enthusiasm and inspiration among the four parties remains. ... Usually it's a good thing in such a complicated process if there is a high level of mutual trust. ... If the cabinet fails now, there will be new elections. For three of the four parties involved that remains a very unattractive scenario for the time being, because they know that only Wilders has become even more popular since the election. He needn't fear any serious competition from the right-wing spectrum for now. For the time being, this realisation is the foundation on which the new cabinet will be built.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Wilders will pull the strings

The election winner PVV will determine policy even without Wilders at the head of government, La Repubblica explains:

“Wilders had renounced the office of Prime Minister because he is too divisive and hardly a representative figure in Brussels, but with his votes he will become the real boss of the new executive. ... The sovereignist, who is always aggressive on social media, will determine the policy of the EU's fifth-largest economy, a country that has often been at the centre of debates in recent years because of its support for Kyiv, as well as over two key issues for Italy, namely EU funds and the redistribution of migrants, an issue on which Wilders will certainly not back Meloni.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Zero hour

Now the right-wing forces must prove that they are capable of governing, De Telegraaf writes with a hint of scepticism:

“It's not just the PVV for whom the stakes are high. Zero hour has now come for every politician who has been yearning for a truly right-wing government over the past twelve years. If this cooperation degenerates into the same chaos that surrounded its creation, the conclusion will very quickly be drawn that the parties involved are not up to the job.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

A loss for Europe

Wilders' becoming head of government marks a turning point, notes the Frankfurter Rundschau:

“Wilders' Freedom Party is the first movement to constitute the strongest force in an EU member state's government and belongs to the far-right to extreme group Identity and Democracy (ID) in the European Parliament. Also on board: the AfD, FPÖ and Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement National (RN) as well as The Finns, a junior partner in the government in Helsinki. This emphasises the importance of the European elections in June. The Netherlands loses its status as a mediator at the EU level. A true loss. For Germany and for Europe.”