"The New Dutch Disease Is White Nationalism`"
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"The New Dutch Disease Is White Nationalism`"
Quote:The New Dutch Disease Is White Nationalism

An upstart far-right party in the Netherlands threatens to entrench xenophobia in one of Europe’s most progressive countries.


By Thijs Kleinpaste | March 20, 2018, 2:26 PM

As voters in the Netherlands gear up for local elections, to be held across the country on March 21, the old adage that all politics are local is being turned on its head. For the Dutch, the opposite is equally true: Local politics are national. Since all cities and towns vote on the same day, prominent national politicians intrude, elevating mundane local elections that used to center on debates about bicycle paths and garbage collection into a national spectacle.

After last year’s nasty campaign that involved sitting Prime Minister Mark Rutte arguing that his rival Geert Wilders, the leader of the nativist Party for Freedom (PVV), would plunge the Netherlands into chaos and Wilders countering that not a single Dutch citizen believed Rutte anymore, the incumbent Rutte defeated Wilders in the March 2017 national election. The results were welcomed by European leaders such as Angela Merkel as a “good day for democracy.” But, as more critical observers have noted, Rutte’s win wasn’t a definitive victory for sensible centrism; indeed, he managed to triumph over the Dutch far-right by moving consistently further to the right himself — by dog whistling to anti-immigration voters and adopting positions similar to Wilders’s own.

If the biggest electoral headline from the Netherlands a year ago was Rutte’s success in fending off a challenge from Wilders, the less trumpeted but equally noteworthy news was the success of a new player in town — the self-styled far-right intellectual-turned-politician Thierry Baudet. Presenting himself to his audience on at least one occasion draped over a grand piano, Baudet, who is 35, combines a sentimental attachment to European high culture with the spirit of an online culture warrior. He has expressed support for Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, both of whom he views as strong leaders. He has also cast doubt on investigations showing that Russia was responsible for the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet over Ukraine that killed nearly 200 Dutch citizens.

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2018 Mar 26 16:32
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