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Wilders Election Win Could Reshape EU

14 March 2017

 

With the Dutch election taking place tomorrow the 15th of March, the European Union (EU) could potentially be heading for another crisis of legitimacy as the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) gains in the polls. The PVV is headed by Geert Wilders, the anti-EU, anti-Islam leader who has vowed to close Holland’s borders and encourage its Muslim residents to return to their country of origin. 

Wilders was elated by the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU last June, referring to the landmark vote as a “patriotic spring” for other nationalist movements across Europe. Parties similar to the PVV have promised to hold Brexit-style referendums in their respective counties should they succeed in gaining power.

Although the PVV is poised for big gains based on the latest polling data, analysts say the party’s aspirations might be held back by a deeply divided parliament. Several parties are expected to gain at least ten seats out of a total of 150, making a political coalition necessary to rule the country. Despite this reality, Wilders has clearly gained in popularity following the Netherlands’ latest row with Turkey, which has devolved into a diplomatic crisis in a matter of days.

Over the weekend, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to the Dutch as “nazis” after Rotterdam withdrew permission of a Turkish Foreign Minister to land there.

The growing popularity of Wilders and the PVV represents the growing tide of far-right nationalism and Euroscepticism sweeping the continent. For Brussels, the outcome of the Dutch vote could lead to an ironic stance on its ability to foster regional cohesion. The fall of Netherlands to far-right nationalism would have once been considered highly unlikely in a country known for its strong liberal values. 

The global financial markets is likely to respond swiftly to any sign that the PVV is gaining ground. Markets could possibly view the election result as a precursor to what lies ahead for France and Germany, two countries heading for elections later this year. But the populist tide doesn’t end there. Next year, Italy will also vote in federal elections that could empower another right-wing party desperate to leave the EU. 

As many analysts rightly predicted, last year’s Brexit vote was not a one-off event, but a possible paradigm shift in regional politics. That this shift is also occurring in the Netherlands, the most liberal of regions, can be viewed as a warning sign. 

The euro is being viewed as highly sensitive to further EU fragmentation. Like the British pound before it, the common currency is probably highly susceptible to sharp fluctuations, as a result of regional dynamics. The euro has declined more than 22% against the dollar over the last three years and could be primed for even bigger losses in the months ahead.

 

Alice Foster (March 10, 2017). “What would Geert Wilders mean for Brexit and the EU if he wins the election 2017?” Express UK.

Ashley Kirk and Patrick Scott (March 13, 2017). “Dutch election: How the far Right could but not rule in a country known for its liberal values.” The Telegraph. 

Gavin Allen (March 11, 2017). “Turkish President calls Dutch “Nazi remnants and fascists” in a stunning outburst.” Mirror UK. 

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