Strong showing for liberals in The Netherlands

Nick Clegg with Mark Rutte in 2010

As the FT reports, VVD, the liberal party of Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, will once again be the largest party in the Dutch parliament:

Prime Minister Mark Rutte looks certain to form the next Netherlands government, with his party projected to secure a clear general election victory over rivals including populist challenger Geert Wilders.

The projected victory was welcomed by moderates and pro-EU politicians across Europe and has calmed their fears that the continent was poised to fall under the sway of nationalists following the UK’s Brexit vote and the election of President Donald Trump in the US.

Though on course to lose eight seats, Mr Rutte’s VVD party is still set to hold 33 against the 20 of Mr Wilders’ PVV, according to state broadcaster NOS, with 95 per cent of votes counted in Wednesday’s election. The Dutch parliament has 150 seats in total.

There was also good news for The Netherlands’ other liberal party, D66, who won 19 seats, raising the prospect of a possible coalition between the two liberal parties.

Tim Farron sent his congratulations:

And congratulations from all here at LDV!

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

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15 Comments

  • Richard Hall 16th Mar '17 - 9:21am

    We should be glad that Wilders has been shut out in this election, and we should hope that the 2 liberal parties can get along and provide some answers to the issues that gave Wilders such a popular appeal in the first place. We shouldn’t be complacent though, the French elections are coming up, and we should acknowledge that Le Pen will probably win in the first round with her mixture of right wing nationalism and left wing economic policies. There is a need for liberalism in France, but these other tendencies’ are strong.

  • Matt (Bristol) 16th Mar '17 - 9:59am

    I think the message is, that in a more proportional system (and the Dutch one is one of the most proportional possible) it is possible for a variety of moderate parties who are willing and prepared to collaborate together, to block out smaller ‘extremist’ ones.

    Really hope that D66 are a strong and respected voice in the coalition that emerges with VVD and probably the Christian Democrats, and hopefully another voice from the left.

    However, we should note the collapse of the (relatively moderate) Labour party – yet again a junior coalition partner bites the dust as it is outstripped in radicalism in the public eye by others who are protected by being out of government… Our party has no solution to this problem, yet, should we ever be in such a position again.

  • clive english 16th Mar '17 - 10:49am

    hmm I think foreigners can overstate the strength of right wing populism in the Netherlands. There was precisely one party promoting that in the Netherlands and it gained very marginally. The Dutch were mostly more interested in health, the economy and social care rather than Wilders. That is not to say there are no stresses about identity in the country, but that the Dutch have a very specific political system that should not be glibly read as Trump versus sanity round 2.

  • Daniel Walker 16th Mar '17 - 11:51am

    @Matt (Bristol) “However, we should note the collapse of the (relatively moderate) Labour party – yet again a junior coalition partner bites the dust as it is outstripped in radicalism in the public eye by others who are protected by being out of government… Our party has no solution to this problem, yet, should we ever be in such a position again.

    Bernard Aris has said on here (I think, apologies to Bernard if I’m mistaken) that the D66 reckon on losing half their votes every time they go into power, so sadly they don’t have an answer either. I suspect it is inevitable for junior partners in a coalition, to a greater or lesser extent.

  • Tony Greaves 16th Mar '17 - 11:57am

    Are the VVD really our allies? Better than wilders, true, but ???

  • Chris Bertram 16th Mar '17 - 3:24pm

    @Tony Greaves: Fellow members of ALDE and Liberal International, so allies in that sense at least.

  • Red Liberal 16th Mar '17 - 4:31pm

    Remember that the VVD is a strongly centre-right party actually very similar to the British Tories in ideology (it is often describe as “conservative liberal” or “liberal conservative”). The D66 on the other hand is a more typical European liberal party, as in centre-right on economics, centre-left on social issues. Most of the LibDems counterparts in ALDE lean much to the right of the British liberal tradition…

  • Red Liberal 16th Mar '17 - 4:38pm

    @Tony Greaves I’d argue if not for historical reasons, the LibDems perhaps might not be in ALDE, as it is composed of mostly centre-right parties (conservative- and classical- liberal parties, as well as the socially conservative Nordic agrarian ‘centre’ parties).

  • @ Tony Greaves – my sentiments exactly.

    @ Red Liberal – just so. Many British Conservatives self-describe as ‘liberal’ meaning, of course, economic liberal.

  • So …. at a maximum, 15% of Dutch people support a car right platform?

  • Bill le Breton 17th Mar '17 - 8:57am

    Surely the article reminds us that the former leadership of our Party are closer in sympathy to VVD than to D66.

    Our Party membership has changed significantly since 2015. It remains to be seen whether the new ‘balance’of the Party is closer to VVD than to D66. I guess it may well be.

  • Bill – That’s an interesting thought.

    The great weakness of the social liberal wing of the party seems to me that it has never properly advanced a credible and tough-minded alternative to Thatcherite/neoliberal thinking, managing only to float of a sea of good intentions – and we know were they lead.

    Yet, the Dutch Labour party’s poor showing suggests that UK Labour’s problems go far beyond Corbyn and that it’s a spent force giving liberals the long hoped-for opportunity to break through. But that will only happen if we lift our game.

    So how is that to happen? How can social liberals breakout of their rut?

  • Mark Rutte’s success secret?

    No video saying “No More Broken Promises”!

    😉

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