Dutch Elections 2017 – Can Jesse Klaver Re-inspire Dutch Progressives?

One week from today, Dutch voters go to the polls in a general election. Previous reports have suggested that the PVV is likely to emerge as the largest party; however, the VVD of prime minister Mark Rutte has now clawed ahead in the polls, and sits a percentage point ahead of the PVV at around 16%, according to the peilingwijzer.

The Domino Effects of Populism

Following the success of the Brexit and Trump votes, the Dutch elections have drawn particular international attention. Many feel that the poll on 15 March represents Western democracy’s next test against populism, in this case embodied by Geert Wilders. Victory for Brexit and Trump has made victory for Europe’s far right, in the form of Wilders and Le Pen, less unthinkable.

Disillusionment with the established ‘ruling elite’ and the prospect of a win for Wilders has left many on the Left scrambling for new hope. In recent days attention has thus focussed on Jesse Klaver of Groen-Links, whose party currently stands at around 11% in the peilingwijzer.

Jesse Klaver
Thanks Justin Trudeau, now Jesse is all excited and thinks he can win this one

When The Traffic Lights Are Green, Turn Left: Jesse Klaver

With his youthful, Trudeau-esque looks, his call for policies of empathy and openness, and the fact that he is not viewed as a member of the old political elite, could Klaver be the symbol of liberal aspirations that progressive voters so desperately want? Can Jesse be the Left’s Jessiah?

The fact that the older, white male leaders of the Netherlands’ other parties appeared to ‘gang up’ on Jesse in a recent TV debate has only served to create the impression that he is a serious contender. Many see him as refreshing, even if only for the contrast that he offers to Geert Wilders. It remains to be seen, though, whether Groen-Links is capable of making substantial gains in the week remaining before the elections next Wednesday.

 

Meanwhile in The Hague

Meanwhile, in other news, Geert Wilders was today seen loitering outside the Turkish embassy in The Hague, hoisting a sign saying “Blijf weg! Dit is ons land.” (Keep out! This is our country.) Members of Pegida were also in attendance. In a gesture towards multiculturalism, they had also helpfully translated the sign into Turkish.

 

Ross McQueen
Originally from Scotland, Ross has been wandering on the European mainland for the past 5 years. He has lived in Berlin and Brussels, with a 2-year stay in Amsterdam in between. He is waging battle with the Dutch language, and is slowly gaining the upper hand.

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