Populism, Euroscepticism and Anti-migration Movements

By Mstyslav Chernov (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Populism is gradually becoming the main political trend of this year. According to opinion polls in France, Marine Le Pen is consistently leading. Citing IFOP, IPSOS and Opinion Way, the leader of the National Front will win the first round of presidential elections. In neighboring Germany, the rating of the Alternative for Germany party continues to grow. According to INSA surveys, the party could gain 15% in the parliamentary elections this autumn. This is a good result for the relatively young party. At the same time Geert Wilders, the right-wing Eurosceptic and leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom, has won the hearts and minds of voters according to opinion polls. 150 members of Parliament will be elected to the lower house of the Dutch parliament very soon, on March 15.This chamber has the greatest influence, as it is responsible for the development and approval of draft laws and possible amendments to the Constitution.

According to the latest polls, Wilders’ Party for Freedom might take first place, leaving Rutte’s ruling People's Party (16%) behind in the upcoming parliamentary elections (it could get more than 30 seats in the national Parliament, 18% of the Dutch are going to vote for it).

Liberal Democrat Mark Rutte, the current Prime Minister, has already realized the fragility of his position and begun to create alliances with other parties to prevent a victory of Wilders.

Wilders, the so-called "Dutch Trump", advocates the "de-Islamization" of the country and even wants to ban immigration from Muslim countries. He believes it necessary to close mosques in Netherlands. He thinks that the EU’s migration policy is "suicidal" for Europe and that the policy of "open borders" is draining the country. His attitude towards the EU is extremely negative. In addition, Wilders participates in the right-wing faction of Eurosceptic MEP’s, the Europe of Nations and Freedom group that was established on June 16th, 2015 with Matteo Salvini and Marine Le Pen.

The current Dutch elections are remarkable for the critical mood of the majority of parties (both left and right) in relation to the EU's migration policy. Many analysts call this a kind of "Trump effect" in the European political space.

Even the defender of the EU, the liberal Democrat and Prime Minister Mark Rutte was forced to appeal to migration critique in order not to lose votes. He spoke about the "failure of migrants to adapt to European values" and said that the migrants must behave properly, or leave. Such a tough tone in Rutte’s program shows that anti-immigration politics is very popular in the Netherlands. This interception of the same anti-immigration discourse by liberals is similar to what is happening in France: Fillon is fully reproducing the anti-immigration agenda of Marine Le Pen.

Both French and Dutch left-wing forces are losing votes and, according to polls, will be on the outside of political struggle in the elections. The working class prefers the centre-left Labour Party (which is in coalition with Rutte), the populists (the Party for Freedom) or liberal conservatives (Christian Democratic Party).

The results of the elections in the Netherlands will be very important for the whole Eurozone, because this country has throughout the history of the European Union played an important role as a kind of guarantor of stability and balance in Europe. If the Party for Freedom wins, which is likely to happen according to the polls, this will be the beginning of a New Europe.