Geert Wilders’s victory is another slap-in-the-face moment for the European Union. The complexities of Dutch democracy may mean that he struggles to form a strong government. But his victory, which seemed impossible just a few weeks ago, reminds us that, whether we like it or not, anti-immigration politics is the most potent force in twenty-first century western democracies. It also raises interesting questions about how the Israel-Palestine war may be influencing elections far outside the Holy Land.
There are of course many factors behind Wilders’s latest ascent — his “Nexit” position against the European Union, his Freedom alliance with Dutch farmers against the eco-left, and his broader objections to the Green agenda all contributed.
But on October 7, the day Hamas struck, his VVD Party was polling at 12 percent. Throughout the month of October, that support more than doubled.
What changed? Well vast pro-Palestine protests took place in Holland. On October 14, 20,000 people marched in Amsterdam. The biggest news story in Holland in the past month was the sheer numbers of people willing to take to the streets to wave flags in solidarity with Palestine and berate their government for its unwillingness to condemn Israeli aggression.
It’s too early to say with certainty that those protests triggered an angry backlash at the ballot and propelled one of Europe’s most explicitly anti-Islam politicians to victory. The coincidence seems too remarkable to ignore, however. Will we see similar shocks in coming elections across the West? What with Meloni’s victory in Italy, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally again leading French polls, and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) still growing — and, of course, that man called Donald still making waves across the Atlantic — it seems that nationalism, and the “populist revolt” of 2016, is far from over.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.