The Dutch Labor Party used to dominate Maastricht. The ancient city gave its name to the Maastricht Treaty that created the European Union. In this election, the Labor Party fell from a quarter of the vote to a twentieth.
Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, which advocates withdrawing from the EU, is now the largest party in Maastricht, the birthplace of the European Union.
And the growing strength of the Freedom Party can be felt not only on the banks of the Maas River, but across the waterways of the Netherlands. A new wind of change has blown off the North Sea and ruffled feathers in Belgisch Park.
In The Hague, where Carnegie’s Peace Palace hosts the World Court while the humbler Noordeinde Palace houses King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, the internationalist institutions colliding with the nationalist ones, the United Nations rubbing up against the Dutch parliament and Supreme Court, the Freedom Party has become the second largest party despite the 15% Muslim population.
In Rotterdam, where Muslim rioters shouted, “Allahu Akbar” and anti-Semitic slurs and where Hamas front groups are organizing a conference, the Freedom Party is now the second largest political party. In that ancient city on the Rotte that had the first Muslim mayor of a major European city, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb of the Labor Party who was being groomed for Prime Minister, estimates are that Labor fell from 32 percent to just 6 percent. That is strikingly similar to what took place in Maastricht.
But nearly half of Rotterdam is made up of immigrants. Muslims make up 13% of the population. But turnout hit 72% and after the Muslim riots, the Freedom Party only narrowly trails the ruling VVD.
The Freedom Party has become the largest party in Venlo while the Labor Party has all but vanished.
And that is the real story of the Dutch election.
The truly final results will only be known next week. But the current numbers show that the Freedom Party has become the second largest political party in Parliament having gained five seats while the Labor Party has disastrously lost 29 seats.
Labor hit a post-war low. The media is spinning this as Prime Minister Rutte’s defeat of Geert Wilders, but the Labor half of the Second Rutte Cabinet just went up in flames. VVD lost quite a few seats, but remains the largest party only because so much of the overall vote had dissipated. Rutte will now have to awkwardly build an unstable coalition out of four parties just to avoid dealing with Wilders.
It is quite possible though that Rutte will be trading the somewhat moderate Labor for GroenLinks which was formed out of, among others, the Communist Party of the Netherlands. When the media cheers that the “moderates” have defeated that terrible extremist, Geert Wilders, what they aren’t mentioning is that the alternative “moderate” coalitions may include the daughter party of the Communist Party.
The election was, in a sense, always rigged. The political system of the Netherlands fragments the vote and then puts it back together in government coalitions. The demonization of Wilders and the PVV was meant to ensure that even if his political party had won a majority, it would not have been allowed to form a government. And so Wilders won more by being in the second spot than by achieving the majority that some polls had predicted, while leaving the PVV unable to form a government.
Despite the attempts to kill it, smear it and destroy it, the Freedom Party continues to rise. And its enemies are being forced to respond to its ideas. The dangerous campaign by Turkey’s Islamist butcher, complete with threats and intimidation, helped Rutte salvage his government. But not his coalition.
The centrist politics that made Rutte’s government possible are imploding. The decline of Rutte’s VVD and Labor is an unmistakable rejection of the status quo. The gains in this election flowed to parties further out on the spectrum on the right and the left. The traditionally moderate Dutch are losing their patience. The polarization is eliminating the center and replacing it with some hard choices.
Geert Wilders and the PVV remain the embodiment of that choice.
Wilders had spoken of a “Patriotic Spring” sweeping the West. After the election, he said that the election results were a thing to be proud of. “The Patriotic Spring continues onward. And it has only begun.”
The media’s celebrations may also be badly misguided for another reason. In the wake of Brexit, the media largely forgot how it had mocked UKIP and Farage as failures. But a political party doesn’t always have to win elections to have an impact. Rigging the system against UKIP didn’t keep the UK in the EU. Instead it ultimately had the opposite effect. Keeping Wilders and the PVV down may backfire.
Geert Wilders has fundamentally changed the conversation about Islam and immigration. And the political parties of the Netherlands are increasingly reacting to him. Wilders took an election in a country whose political shifts are generally of little interest to those living outside it and made it a matter of international interest. His courage and common sense have made him into a world leader.
Wilders had the courage to defy the assassins and murderers, the politically correct scolds and the bleeding hearts, the pallid men and women who counsel moderation in all things and at all times, to tell the truth about Islam and Islamic migration. That is what he will go on doing even as he lives under threat. And his courage inspires opponents of the Jihad in the Netherlands and around the world.
This election was an erosion of faith in the establishment and a show of support for Wilders. To become Prime Minister Wilders, the PVV will either need a truly massive victory or a fundamental change in the political environment. Wilders understands this. He knows that the role of his party is to fight a failing establishment. Everything he does builds support and momentum for either of the two roads.
The media is cheering a defeat that never happened. And just as with Brexit, it may find that it had overlooked the seeds of its own destruction in the dirty politics of its own making.
“This patriotic revolution,” Geert Wilders said, “whether today or tomorrow, will take place anyway.”
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.