Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:8AM
Dutch people line up before voting for the general elections at a polling station at a train station on March 15, 2017 in The Hague. (Photo by AFP)
Dutch people line up before voting for the general elections at a polling station at a train station on March 15, 2017 in The Hague. (Photo by AFP)

Millions of Dutch voters have cast their ballots in key parliamentary elections dominated by the parties of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte and far-right MP Geert Wilders. Exit polls suggest that Rutte’s center-right VVD Party gained 31 out of 150 seats during Wednesday’s elections, which had a turnout of 81 percent, the highest in the last 30 years, while Wilders' anti-immigration and anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) won 19 seats.  

Press TV has talked to Javier Farje, a political commentator and Europe expert, as well as David Lindorff, an investigative journalist, to discuss the importance of the elections in the Netherlands.

Farje believes the Dutch vote is very important in terms of its implications for the upcoming elections in France and Germany, adding that it will influence the far-right parties’ behavior given the fact that the Netherlands is one of the founding members of the European Union.

He also noted this election is important in the sense that it is the first “major” election after the Brexit vote which has been a “catalyst” for the nationalist far-right parties in Europe who believe their countries can leave the European Union the same way Britain did.

The commentator further opined that the far-right parties in Europe have been encouraged by the victory of US president Donald Trump, asserting that they feel that Trump “has given legitimacy to far-right ideas.”

He went on to say they believe that the idea of Islamophobia will take root and many people in Europe will vote for them.

Farje also maintained that Trump has made a “huge contribution” to the emergence of these far-right parties in Europe, asserting that they are using the same slogan that Trump used during his election campaign which is to ‘make their countries great again.’

Elsewhere in his remarks, the commentator said the European Union has been “pretty incompetent” in dealing with the current refugee crisis.

He also denounced the fact that there is no “unified position” in relation to the refugees in the EU, arguing that this lack of common policy has helped these far-right parties to “feed fear.”

Farje also stated the far-right parties are taking advantage of the refugee crisis and Islamophobia which is spreading in most European countries, highlighting the fact that they are using the same kind of rhetoric that Trump used regarding immigrants.

He concluded by saying that both Trump and the Brexit vote have helped the far-right parties in Europe set their agenda and become more “mainstream” in order to demand drastic changes.

Meanwhile, David Lindorff, the other panelist on the program, opined that the Dutch election is not going to have a “significant” impact on the elections in France and Germany because the forces involved in those countries are quite different.

He also mentioned that Marine Le Pen’s party in France has a very long-standing membership, predicting that it will gain what it wants regardless of what happens in the elections in the Netherlands or Germany. 

The analyst also stated that Germany does not have the same antipathy towards the European Union and it is really the one that is benefiting from the euro. 

Lindorff further noted if people in Europe start to see the realities of what a right-wing government really means, they will think twice before they vote.

However, he said, whatever the outcome of the Dutch election would be, it has already had a “profound influence” on immigration and multiculturalism.