Populism becomes political weather vane （He Zhigao）
The curtain has descended on the Dutch election. Although Geert Wilders, leader and founder of the right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV), had once maintained a clear lead in the polls, he claimed only 20 seats in the election, four seats fewer than in the 2010 election.
There is a number of causes for the result. The Netherlands has been maintaining a stable political system.
Despite certain divergences among voters, there have not been many variations in the opinion polls. The consociational democracy in the Netherlands made sure that people in the country can always reach widespread consensus on major issues.
Moreover, around 81 percent of voters have casted their ballots in the Dutch parliamentary election this time - the higher the turnout is, the more chances that the supporting rate for the PVV would be diluted.
The People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) has made some statements or took actions that are similar to the PVV, such as banning the entry of Turkish ministers. It shows that the VVD must put voters' interests as its priority in order to be reelected in the election.
The Dutch election result indicates that, like before, a coalition cabinet will be formed. If a VVD-led coalition government wants to have a long-lasting life, the new government will have to proactively deal with multiple crises in Europe, and consensus must be reached between the VVD and other parties in the coalition cabinet while confronting challenges posed by populist parties.
This election witnessed a temporary loss of Dutch populist party PVV. Uncertainties abound in the coming formation of the country's cabinet and the upcoming elections in other European countries such as France and Germany.
The anti-globalization movement has now become a key object of reference or weather vane in the Western political discourse. The phenomenon is a demonstration of opposition to refugees.
Fifty-nine percent of Europeans believe that the large influx of asylum seekers will increase the possibility of terror attacks and will have a negative influence on their economy. The visa policy within the Schengen area as well as Europe's refugee policy is now the focal points in the region's anti-globalization movement.
Given the large scale of asylum seekers rapidly flooding into the continent, Europe, which already has a sluggish economy, finds it hard to accommodate all of them while guaranteeing the region's own security and effectively cracking down on terrorism.
Due to the deteriorating ties between Europe and Turkey, there will be more refugees flocking into European countries at a faster speed, which will bring more uncertain factors to the continent's anti-globalization trend.
European society is being torn apart. When gains and losses of globalization and integration are unequally distributed to different parts of Europe, people in poorer areas feel that they are deprived or alienated.
For instance, statistics from a German Council on Foreign Relations article in January showed that the youth unemployment rate in Germany, France and Spain are about 6.6 percent, 23.6 percent and 42.2 percent respetively. When the unemployment rate remained high for quite some time, the sense of being unfairly treated and being deprived, along with the need to provide room for a large number of refugees, would give more opportunities for populist parties to win or gain grounds in elections. Those parties can launch new models of social movements with the help of new media, in order to highlight unfairness and guide the people against further globalization and regional integration.
A recent study by the Bertelsmann Foundation showed that 78 percent of the Alternative for Germany party voters, 76 percent of French National Front party voters, 69 percent of Freedom Party of Austria voters, 57 percent of PVV voters, 58 percent of Poland's Law and Justice party voters, 50 percent of Hungary's Jobbik party voters and 50 percent of the United Kingdom Independence Party voters see globalization as a threat. Over 50 percent of right-wing parties' supporters can be viewed as pessimists over globalization.
Uncertainties and unpredictability have made populist parties resort to nationalism, isolationism, anti-globalization and weakening of the EU. Those parties are still far from being able to rule the government, yet populism will keep aggravating social divisions on the European continent.
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