Mark Rutte (full disclosure: I have had several encounters with Mr. Rutte at various events, notably the 2012 NATO conference in Chicago) has won the Netherlands 2017 elections. His center-right VVD Party has defeated gonzo nationalist leader Geert Wilders. Geert Wilders has been riding high in the recent wave of populist, anti-globalization nationalism sweeping across Europe. Many analysts assumed that just because Brexit happened and Donald Trump won the American presidency, Wilders must have been poised to win. But, it would seem that this was not to be.
As Reuters has reported, Wilders’ Right-wing party, Party for Freedom (PVV) was in a three-way tie with the Christian Democrats and the centrist Democrats. Not unlike the 1992 American presidential election which saw a three-way race between presumptive winner, President George H.W. Bush, upstart Democratic candidate, Bill Clinton, and feisty populist, Ross Perot, the battle between Rutte’s center-right VVD Party and Wilders’ party was not a straight-up battle between Rutte and Wilders. Had it been, it would have been far closer, I suspect. Although, it is important to note that Wilders is likely to continue being a staunch opposition leader against Rutte. In fact, Rutte’s victory is likely a temporary pause rather than a complete reversal of the nationalist wave sweeping through Europe.
by Brandon J. Weichert