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Shocking election outcome in Netherlands: Rise of 'Dutch Trump' and implications for Ukraine

Shocking election outcome in Netherlands: Rise of 'Dutch Trump' and implications for Ukraine Right-wing populist Geert Wilders has high chances of becoming the Prime Minister of the Netherlands (Photo: Getty Images)

In the Netherlands elections, the far-right Party for Freedom led by Geert Wilders emerged victorious. He is a populist, a staunch anti-Islamist, and promises to end support for Ukraine.

Details on who Wilders is, the upcoming government, and whether the Netherlands will reduce military aid are covered in the material by RBC-Ukraine.

The article was prepared using materials from Western agencies Reuters and AP, Dutch sites NOS, Telegraaf, and, data from the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands, and comments from Ukrainian political scientist Volodymyr Fesenko.

Shock victory for far-right

Nearly 99% of votes have been counted. The results have been highly unexpected, termed a political upheaval. According to preliminary predictions, parliamentary seats will be distributed as follows:

  • Far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) - 37 seats
  • Green Left - Labour Party coalition (GroenLinks-PvdA) - 25 seats
  • Center-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD, led by current Prime Minister Mark Rutte) - 24 seats
  • New Social Contract (NSC) - 20 seats 'Democrats 66' party
  • Democrats 66 (D66) - 9 seats
  • Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) - 7 seats

The remaining 28 mandates in the 150-seat Chamber of Representatives will be divided among nine smaller parties.

Shocking election outcome in Netherlands: Rise of 'Dutch Trump' and implications for UkraineThe Netherlands election results (

The early elections occurred after the coalition between VVD, D66, Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), and Christian Union (CU) failed to agree on migration issues during the summer, leading to the resignation of the cabinet. Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced his resignation from politics following the elections, after 13 years in power.

"Rutte's era is coming to an end; he has long held various government positions. He was a highly visible leader for his country, much like Angela Merkel for Germany. It's not surprising that he's now considered a contender for the NATO Secretary-General position," noted political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko in an interview with RBC-Ukraine.

Local media describe the victory of the far-right PVV, led by Geert Wilders, as "monstrous." The newspaper Trouw writes that nobody anticipated this scenario, and it seems the Netherlands will continue the European trend of right-wing populism. Another paper, NRC, speaks of "an uprising that will shake Binnenhof (the government complex in The Hague -Ed.) to its core." Dagblad news agency is shocked by the PVV victory and sees the possibility of a right-wing coalition on the horizon for the first time.

"We've gained 37 seats, can you imagine? And this was almost without any campaign money... We're going to work on a different policy; the Dutch deserve it, and it will happen: the PVV will enter the next cabinet," stated Wilders, emphasizing his intention to become "the premier for all," despite his radical pre-election agenda.

The leader of the second-largest left-wing alliance, combining green and labor parties, former Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, doubts that Wilders will soften his position and distance himself from his manifesto, which includes proposals such as banning mosques and withdrawing military aid to Ukraine.

Shocking election outcome in Netherlands: Rise of 'Dutch Trump' and implications for Ukraine

Photo: Leader of the green/left alliance, Frans Timmermans, doubts Freedom Party will abandon its positions (Getty Images)

According to Fesenko, it's not yet time for pessimism. For instance, the example from Austria in the early 2000s showed that right-wing parties could enter a ruling coalition in a Western European country, but the government itself was short-lived, and their policies were moderate.

"A similar scenario might occur in the Netherlands. First, they need to form a government, and the question is about the coalition and how they agree internally. They have a multi-party system in the true sense. In political science, there's a term called "effective number of parties," referring to how many parties enter parliament and influence policy. Typically, in stable democracies, it's between 2 to 4 parties, while in the Netherlands, it could be 7 to 8. The situation potentially poses complexity for us. We need to assess the coalition program, and then draw conclusions," he emphasized.

Future coalition: Three possible scenarios

Forming a coalition in the fragmented political landscape of the Netherlands usually takes months, and this time is likely no exception. Negotiations are expected to commence on Friday and are anticipated to last until at least the end of the year. Meanwhile, three possible scenarios are being considered.

Right-wing coalition

The Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders, as the winner, will attempt to negotiate with the conservative VVD and the centrist NSC. All three parties advocated for migration limitations, as well as exceptions for their country from EU rules regarding environmental policies and refugee admission.

Negotiations will be challenging as Rutte's successor, Dilan Yeşilgöz (VVD), and NSC leader Pieter Omtzigt do not share Wilders' desire to ban mosques and the Quran, withdraw the Netherlands from the EU, or reinstate border controls.

However, during the election campaign, Wilders appeared more pragmatic. He acknowledges that he might have to make significant concessions to enter the cabinet. In this combination, the coalition would secure 81 seats, thus achieving a ruling majority.

Broad coalition

If negotiations for an extreme right-wing coalition fail, Dilan Yeşilgöz will attempt to form a center-right government with NSC's Pieter Omtzigt and the Green-Labor Party Alliance, led by former Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans. Together, they hold 69 seats, so they will need to involve smaller liberal parties.

Shocking election outcome in Netherlands: Rise of 'Dutch Trump' and implications for UkrainePhoto: The successor to Mark Rutte as leader of the VVD party, Dilan Yeşilgöz, may form a majority if Wilders fails in his attempt (Getty Images)

Nevertheless, negotiations won't be easy. If Omtzigt signaled his readiness to work with both, Yeşilgöz and Timmermans would have to resolve several differences. The main obstacle lies in the Green-Labor Party's stance on increasing taxes on wealth and profits, whereas VVD advocates for business interests.

The question of limiting migration could also be challenging. All three parties aim to restrict the flow of labor migrants, yet the left-leaning parties seek a softer approach toward refugees compared to VVD.

Centrist minority

Considering that none of the parties secured more than 25% of the votes, one option could be a minority government similar to what existed before. Specifically, VVD and NSC could agree on the primary agenda and seek support on various issues from both the right and left camps. For instance, seeking consensus on migration restrictions with PVV and other right-wing parties, and on climate policies with the left.

The leader of the New Social Contract, Pieter Omtzigt, is willing to support such a scheme as it prevents parties from adhering to strict positions. However, Dilan Yeşilgöz refers to it as a weak option as this type of government, by its nature, is unstable.

Geert Wilders: Dutch Trump, anti-Islamist, and opponent of aid to Ukraine

The leader of the Freedom Party has been dubbed the Dutch Donald Trump; Islamic activists have threatened him; he has been accused of insulting Moroccans, and the UK once barred his entry. Now, Geert Wilders has every chance to form a ruling coalition and become the next Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

His affinity for populism has made him one of the most recognized politicians, and his blonde hair and distinctive hairstyle invite comparisons to Trump. But unlike Trump, it seemed that Wilders was destined to spend his entire life in opposition. He was close to power only once when in 2010, he supported Mark Rutte's first coalition but did not join it, and within 1.5 years, he contributed to its downfall due to disagreements over stringent austerity measures. Since then, leading Dutch parties have avoided him.

His anti-Islamic rhetoric made him a target for extremists, so Wilders has lived under constant protection for years. In 2009, the British government denied him entry into the country. The reason cited was the threat to harmony in society and, therefore, public security. As a result, he couldn't show a 15-minute film, "Fitna," in London, where he criticized the Quran as a fascist book. A year before, this short film sparked vigorous protests in the Muslim world.

To attract voters in the current elections, Wilders focused more on addressing acute issues like housing shortages, reducing expenses, and access to healthcare. Although his program calls for a referendum on leaving the EU, rejecting refugees, and closing Islamic schools and mosques, he pledged not to violate laws and the constitution, which guarantee freedom of religion.

Ukraine is mentioned four times in his electoral manifesto, but it's mostly unpleasant news.

"The world is rapidly changing and becoming increasingly unstable. The Netherlands must respond to these changes. The guiding principle is to act in favor of the Netherlands and the Dutch. Our own country comes first. In this century, Africa's population will exceed 4 billion, destined for poverty and military suffering. The refugee tsunami will only grow. In Eastern Europe, between Russia and Ukraine, the biggest war is raging after the illegal aggression by the Russian aggressor," the document states.

Formal condemnation of Russia does not imply that Wilders is ready to support Ukraine. On the contrary, he complains about the supply of deficient equipment and the weakening of the Netherlands' army.

Shocking election outcome in Netherlands: Rise of 'Dutch Trump' and implications for UkrainePhoto: Geert Wilders opposes military aid to Ukraine (Getty Images)

"We do not send our money and defense equipment such as F16s (fighters - Ed.) to Ukraine but keep it for our own Armed Forces," reads one of the points.

At the end of this year, Geert Wilders will become the longest-serving deputy. His career in the House of Representatives began in 1998 when he was a member of the VVD and a mentor to a young Mark Rutte before he left to form his own Party for Freedom. He's a supporter of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's policies, and a staunch supporter of Israel, advocating for relocating the Dutch embassy to Jerusalem and closing the diplomatic post in Ramallah (Palestinian Authority). Interestingly, Orban congratulated Wilders on his election victory with the words "The winds of change are here!"

Are there threats to Ukraine?

The Netherlands has already been a problematic country for Ukraine, notes political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko.

"In the spring of 2016, there was a referendum there with unfavorable results for us. As a result, the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU was adjusted, and for quite some time, our prospects for EU membership were not discussed at bilateral summits. The situation changed later, but both then and after that, the prime minister was Mark Rutte," he noted.

This consultative referendum was organized by Eurosceptics, particularly from the Party for Freedom. Over eight years, the Netherlands has become one of Ukraine's key allies in resisting Russian aggression. Today, it's the 7th largest donor of military aid, surpassing France, Italy, Spain, and Canada.

The Netherlands supplied 60 T-72 tanks, nearly 200 YPR armored vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles like Fennek, and tracked Vikings, along with Denmark and Germany providing at least a hundred Leopard 1 tanks and 14 units of Leopard 2A4. Self-propelled howitzers like PzH-2000, mortars, Patriot air defense systems, additional launchers, MP-2 and Bofors anti-aircraft systems, surface-to-air missiles, and more were also delivered. Moreover, the country has taken leadership in an aviation coalition, potentially providing about 40 F-16 fighters, and this is not an exhaustive list of aid.

According to Fesenko, the rise of the far-right to power could potentially impact military support. For instance, they might cut supplies or refrain from grant-based transfers in favor of sales, as Slovakia is attempting to do.

"It's not the worst-case scenario, but a potential problem. Again, the position against F-16s is included in the party program. However, after forming a coalition, the situation will be completely different. Whether this norm will remain or not is a big question. If it stays, the Netherlands may stop supplying, but there are other possibilities to acquire equipment from other countries," explains the political analyst.

The main threat in the Party for Freedom manifesto, according to him, lies in the blockade of European Union expansion.

"Not just for Ukraine, but for everyone. This contradicts the agreed European policy. I believe Dutch political elites will pressure to find a compromise and a solution. In other words, an additional risk for us. The extent of this risk, how long-lasting or temporary it might be, depends on the situation in the Netherlands, the programmatic principles of the future coalition, and the EU's position. Therefore, the European Union needs to hurry with internal reform, change the decision-making process, and abandon the consensus principle. It's not easy to do, but it's inevitable; otherwise, the bloc will find itself in a deadlock," summarizes Fesenko.