Not only was the Far-Right party of Geert Wilders given a sound beating in the Dutch election, the turn-out was massive.They used to say that political parties only ever won elections by dominating the centre ground. There were no votes in it for a right-wing party to move to the right, no votes for a left-wing party moving to the left. That view seems to have been contradicted by some of the events of the last few months. But yesterday, the centre ground won a resounding victory.
Well sort of.
In fact, the centre right party the VVD party – a kind of conservative liberal party – and led by Mark Rutte, has done better than expected in the election, and its leader is expected to retain his position as prime minister.
But it only achieved this after moving to the right – advancing a pretty aggressive anti-immigration agenda.
Maybe the centre ground has moved to the right, after-all.
But what is clear is that the PVV party – Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders, which is based so far to the right that it is practically off the edge of the map, did worse than expected.
Polls suggested it would win 22 seats, it seems set to win around 20. Polls suggested that the VVD party would win 27 seats, it seems set to win around 33.
More to the point, 81 per cent of the electorate voted.
Populism it seems has been handed a defeat by the popular majority.
Maybe the rise of Donald Trump in the US had something to do with this – maybe it filled many Europeans with a zeal to counter-act the forces of populism.
Well the jury is out. What went down in Holland, will not necessarily go down in France in its nearing election and in Germany later in the year, but right now, and at the very least, populism has suffered from a backlash.
But then again, there was a clear move to the right in Holland, with three of the four most successful parties in the election – the VVD, PVA and the Christian Democrats (CDA – set to win around 19 seats) having a distinct anti-immigration flavour in the campaign, with only the D66, (also set to win around 19 seats) advancing a more liberal agenda.
The Dutch labour party, which won 38 seats in the last election has seen its vote collapse falling to around 10 seats.
For the EU itself, this is good news. Many people have argued that the Brexit vote followed by the rise of populism across the EU represented an existential threat to the EU. This threat has not been wholly defeated, but it has lost a battle.
This in turn is good for the euro, which rose as the results of the election came in.
The pound fell against the euro, which supports inflationary pressures.