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15th January 2024 Geert Wilders arrives at palace on the Dam for the Dutch Kings annual New Years Reception.

IMAGO/Richard Wareham via Reuters Connect

Wilders in the wilderness: Far-right Dutchman drops PM bid

Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders will not become prime minister of his country, despite getting the most votes in last year’s election.

Although Wilders’ PVV party swept to victory on a scorching anti-Islam and anti-migrant “Dutch First” message, he still needed coalition partners to form a government. Months of talks with a handful of center-right parties ended this week without support for Wilders as PM.

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Dutch far-right politician and leader of the PVV, Geert Wilders, reacts as he meets the press in November 2023.

REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

Who will work with Wilders?

Geert Wilders is still looking for a dance partner. In November, his far-right Freedom Party, or PVV, finished first, with 23.5% of the vote in Dutch parliamentary elections, giving Wilders the first shot at finding coalition parties that allow him to form and lead a new government.
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Dutch far-right politician and leader of the Freedom Party Geert Wilders gestures as he meets with party members after the parliamentary elections in The Hague, Netherlands, on Nov. 23, 2023.

REUTERS/Yves Herman

Dutch voters take hard-right turn: Will more of the EU follow?

After winning 25% of the seats in the Dutch Parliament last Wednesday, far-right firebrand Geert Wilders says he’s willing to compromise on his hard-line manifesto to get the support he needs to form the next government of the Netherlands. “I will be prime minister of this beautiful country,” he declared on X.
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Dutch politician Geert Wilders, the leader of the PVV party, speaks during the final debate between the lead candidates in the Dutch election before polls open on Wednesday, in The Hague, Netherlands, November 21, 2023.

REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

Netherlands votes for first new PM in 13 years

The Dutch head to the polls tomorrow to elect their first new prime minister in over a decade. The election has centered on immigration, living standards, climate change, and how conservative the next government will be.

The election was called after outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right government imploded over how to reduce the flow of migrants to the Netherlands – a polarizing issue collapsing centrist coalitions across Europe.

A majority of voters support right-leaning parties. Geert Wilders of the Freedom Party, or PVV, made last-minute gains to take a lead the polls. Wilders has built his career on barring Muslim asylum-seekers from the Netherlands, and his rhetoric has gained traction since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius – another frontrunner from the current PM’s party – is also running on reducing immigration in order to limit the war’s security risks to European countries.

The results are still too close to call. As of this week, 63% of voters remained undecided. Left-wing parties are urging their supporters to strategically vote centrist to block a PVV-led government. Accordingly, Wilders moderated his stances in the last debate, which may have contributed to his last-minute gains.

But the real fun starts after the votes are counted: None of the candidates are expected to get more than 20% of the vote, so the parties must decide what compromises they are willing to make to form a government.

If a hard right coalition is formed, they would seek to radically restrict immigration. A centrist government would follow through on the previous government's plans to increase social spending and renewable energy. A left-wing coalition, meanwhile, would raise taxes on the wealthy and supercharge the adoption of the EU’s green deal that its likely leader, Frans Timmermans, spearheaded as EU climate commissioner.
Ari Winkleman

The Graphic Truth: How much it costs to supply Ukraine

As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, proponents of continued military aid to Kyiv say it’s a cut-rate investment for security while others wonder whether the cost is worth it. We look at how much the biggest suppliers spent on military aid to Ukraine as a percentage of their defense budgets last year.

Paige Fusco

Biden enlists Japan & Netherlands to fight US-China chips war

Japan and the Netherlands have reportedly agreed to join US export controls to stop China from getting the machines to make some of the world’s most advanced semiconductors — in part, the Biden administration claims, to make high-tech weapons. It's a major milestone in the broader US push to beat China in the race to dominate global tech with "weapons" such as the $52 billion CHIPS Act, which aims to subsidize domestic chipmaking in America and make it harder for China to access the tech.

We learn more from Eurasia Group's senior analyst Nick Reiners.

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What We're Watching: Anti-lockdown protests turn violent in Europe

Europe anti-lockdown protests get violent. Pockets of unrest spread across Europe in recent days as tens of thousands gathered in several cities across the continent to protest government measures aimed at curbing a fast-spreading wave of COVID-19. Violent clashes broke out between demonstrators and police in The Hague and Rotterdam where Dutch cops opened fire at an increasingly aggressive crowd protesting the tightening of restrictions. Meanwhile, more that 35,000 people turned out in Brussels, while large crowds rocked Vienna, protesting fresh lockdowns that initially targeted only the unvaccinated, as well as new vaccine mandates. The state of the pandemic in Europe is not good. Germany recorded more than 48,000 new cases Sunday, the highest on record, prompting new lockdowns in the lead-up to Christmas, while deaths across the continent are also rising since the summer months, though they remain well below pre-vaccine levels. What's more, far-right groups, like Austria's Freedom Party, are taking advantage of COVID fatigue and anti-vaxx sentiment to encourage people to defy government rules and sow chaos.

After Merkel, who leads Europe?
After Merkel, Who Leads Europe? | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

After Merkel, who leads Europe?

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

Who's going to be the leading voice politician in Europe after Angela Merkel leaves?

Well, that remains to be seen. First, we need to wait for the outcome of the German election, and then it's going to take quite some time to form a government in Germany to see who's going to be chancellor. And then of course we have elections coming up in France in the spring. Macron is likely to win, but you never know. So by next summer, we'll know more about that. And then there are other personalities there. There's Mario Draghi, prime minister of Italy, who has a strong personality. Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, as long as he's there. So it's going to take quite some time for this to be sorted out.

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