The parliamentary election in the Netherlands on March 15 is approaching rapidly. And with an incredibly fragmented field, it looks as though attempts to form a coalition government after the vote will prove a challenging task, to say the least. Despite all the hype, it’s far from certain that the populist radical right Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders will top the polls – and even more questionable whether it will end up in government. The PVV and the Liberal Party (VVD) of Prime Minister Mark Rutte have led the opinion polls for months. Behind them follow no fewer than five parties which, according to the latest figures, are predicted to win around 10% of the vote each. Given the extreme proportionality of the Dutch electoral system, such a result would generate a highly fragmented parliament. If the final results resemble the opinion polls, a minimum of four parties would need to agree to cooperate to form a majority coalition.
In the final weeks of the campaign, the parties are focusing on socio-economic issues, including income redistribution, employment figures, healthcare contributions, and citizens’ purchasing power. But the debate certainly also touches on issues such as immigration and cultural integration – and the future of the European Union.
The “champion” of those issues on the culturally conservative right is Wilders’ PVV. The party continuously stresses the need to stop the “Islamisation” of the Netherlands, to preserve Dutch culture and identity, and to halt the process of European integration. The core slogan of the PVV for this campaign has a Trumpian ring to it: “The Netherlands ours again” (Nederland weer van ons).