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Why Did A Climate Sceptic Party Win The Dutch Elections?

Syp Wynia,

A first time participant in the provincial elections and newcomer to the senate becomes the biggest party in the land in one fell swoop. It’s not something the Netherlands has ever experienced before, says columnist Syp Wynia.

Forum voor Democratie, the party of Thierry Baudet, Henk Otten and Theo Hiddema, all of three years old, scorned by politicians as well as the Hilversum media, was hoisted to the top of the political tree by the voters. It is now the biggest in a number of provinces and the city of Rotterdam. The political establishment can no longer ignore it, lest it wants Baudet’s party to become a bigger winner still, starting with the European parliament election on May 23. […]

Why did Forum win?

FvD’s meteoric rise is a result of how Baudet and his friends presented themselves but even more by how the established parties presented themselves.

At the time of the national elections two year ago, voters were only marginally interested in climate and debates on the subject were few and far between. But the government agreement put together by VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie suddenly turned the Netherlands into the world’s leading champion on climate. Months later all homes were to be gas free, the bill for which was to be largely paid by the population which, relatively speaking, is not the greatest source of CO2 emissions.

Initially Forum was the only party to dispute the government climate stance. Not only did Baudet criticise the high cost of climate policy, he also questioned the United Nations’ IPCC panels’ prevailing views and those of the Paris agreement. The mendacious energy bill was a godsend for Baudet.

Baudet also took aim – albeit not as straight an aim as he used to in the last few weeks – at the European Union: the Netherlands should leave. And immigration should be modelled on the Australian system. Only those who can make a contribution will be allowed into the country, if not the doors remain closed. And in general, the Netherlands and western civilisation as a whole, should stop blaming itself and be less self-effacing.

Forum seems to grow because of a dichotomy between a trend for re-nationalisation and a movement towards handing over more power to Brussels and the United Nations. The Marrakesh migration pact – supported by most MPs- was also seized on by Forum and that unconventional but reasoned opposition helped Forum in this year’s provincial election.

The ‘cartel parties’ helped too

The traditional parties actively contributed to Forum’s success. They supplied the ammunition by focusing on climate (and the business climate, in the case of VVD and CDA) and not purchasing power after years of austerity. The ban on gas in homes, the ambition to be climate champion, the Marrakesh migration pact, none of these were put to the voters. What is more, the referendum was abolished by Rutte III (and defended by none other than D66).

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