The far-right Wilders reaches a “provisional” agreement for a coalition government

Geert Wilders' Islamophobic far-right will lead the Netherlands' next government.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
14 May 2024 Tuesday 22:26
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The far-right Wilders reaches a “provisional” agreement for a coalition government

Geert Wilders' Islamophobic far-right will lead the Netherlands' next government. “It is a dream”, “a historic day if everything is confirmed” declared this Wednesday mid-afternoon the leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) when announcing that he had reached a provisional agreement with three other political parties – the liberals of Mark Rutte, a formation of the Christian Democratic orbit and the farmers' party – to form what will undoubtedly be the most conservative coalition in the history of the country.

The Government agreement, summarized in a 25-page document that must be voted on by the leaders of the parliamentary factions of the four parties involved, arrived in stoppage time, on the edge of the deadline set by the negotiators after almost six months of contacts. , four different intermediaries and a threat to derail the negotiations that was finally saved by Wilders' decision to resign as prime minister.

His future partners did not want the far-right to be “the face of the Netherlands” and, although it has not yet been decided who will lead the new government, it has emerged that Wilders has offered the position to former Labor minister Ronald Plasterk, a free electron in terms politicians who mediated unsuccessfully between the different parties last year,

Another peculiarity of the agreement, reflecting the level of risk of the political operation, is that the leaders of the parties of the future coalition will remain in Parliament and will not be part of the government. The plan is to appoint an “extra-parliamentary government” – or technocratic – in which ministerial portfolios will be assigned to figures outside the parties.

The mistrust between the future partners is, in short, total and resonates as a bad omen for the stability of the coalition. An important sector of the liberal party (VVD), which remembers the bad experience of depending on Wilders in 2012, when Rutte's first government fell, is very reluctant to the idea of ​​collaborating with the extreme right. On a personal level, it is with Pieter Omtzigt – the leader of the New Social Contract, a new party that emerged from Christian democracy – that the founder of the PVV gets along the worst.

Wilders, on the other hand, has reached an understanding without problems with the leader of the BBB, the Citizen Peasant Movement, Caroline van der Plas. The farmers' party made a splash in the March 2023 regional elections but achieved limited success in the November legislative elections. While the social democrats called on the progressives to vote usefully without much success, the extreme right practiced it around the figure of Wilders.

The content of the pact, which at the close of this edition had only been ratified by the PVV, is unknown but its great – or only – glue is the desire to reduce the numbers of foreigners in the country, both economic immigrants, as well as specialized workers and students. A few days ago a negotiator from this party revealed a paper in which it was read that the program would include “the toughest immigration and asylum policy” in the history of the country.

Until Pim Fortuyn's emergence onto the national political scene 25 years ago shouting “The Netherlands is full”, the Dutch were the great champions of multiculturalism in Europe. Fortuyn's murder was the starting signal for the emergence of different anti-immigration far-right parties, among which Wilders' PVV, despite its monotheistic character and the variable success of its ideological proposal, has turned out to be the most resistant. In November it won 37 of the 150 seats in the Dutch Parliament.

Europe's sociological laboratory for decades, this time the Netherlands is not exactly a pioneer. The extreme right is already part of the current coalition governments in Italy, Sweden and Finland, and aspires to advance positions in the European elections in June.