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The Netherlands: What US Media Gets Wrong About Geert Wilders and Dutch Elections - by Feargus O'Sullivan

You just can’t get away from Geert Wilders right now. Browse any English-language site covering European news and you might assume that the extreme right politician, a key party leader in Wednesday’s Dutch election, is poised to take over the entire continent. Wilders has become so widely discussed and quoted—most recently by nativist controversy-hunter and Iowa Representative Steve King—that he may have unseated that actress who plays the Red Woman on “Game of Thrones” as the main Dutch person foreigners actually recognize.

Maybe this is to be expected. We live in a climate of political upheaval right now, and Wilders functions as a visually memorable bellwether for the West’s swing to the far right. Still, there’s a problem with the English-language media’s current obsession with him. Among British and American publications, the Wilders’ worries are as much a projection of domestic angst as a reflection of Dutch reality.

Something dramatic is indeed happening in Dutch politics right now. It’s just that Wilders and his party, the PVV, have far less to do with it than you might expect.

Like Dutch politics in general, this is complicated and not especially sexy. The Netherlands has a pluralist system where 12 parties (yes, 12) are currently represented in parliament; multi-party coalition governments have been the rule for over a century. Despite the chorus of worried thinkpieces, the number of buyers for Wilders’ PVV remains static in an extremely busy political marketplace. In the last poll available, the party is set to score 14 percent of the vote. That’s an improvement on their 2012 election score of 10.1 percent, but down on their 2010 showing, where they got 15.4 percent.

What the country is mainly experiencing is a game of musical chairs among the center-right and center-left. Wilders is unlikely to be accepted in any coalition, because the overwhelming majority of Dutch voters don’t want his party in power.
Read more: What Media Gets Wrong About Geert Wilders and Dutch Elections - CityLab

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