The real story of the Dutch elections: collapse of Labour and triumph for liberals

The Dutch Labour Party (Partij van de Arbeid) had a nightmare election result. Last time it scored 25% and 38 seats. This time round? Just 6% and 9 seats.

Or as The Guardian points out:

Wilders is an important factor in Dutch politics but with barely 14% of the vote he is nothing more than that. The real story last week in the Netherlands was the historic collapse of the Dutch equivalent of the Labour party – one of the two pillars of the postwar consensus. The other story was the spectacular gains for two parties that are unashamedly pro-EU: the Democrats 66 and the Greens.

It wasn’t just bad news for Labour. It was good news for liberals too, as Tim Farron pointed out in his York conference speech:

We’ve just dodged Geert Wilders – because the Dutch are so liberal they have two liberal parties – and they both won!

D66, the liberal party closest to the Liberal Democrats, did particularly well. Vote share up 4.2%, seat total up 7 to 19. The Dutch Parliament has 150 seats, so on a British scale that 12 seat gain is equivalent to a gain of 52 seats.

For more on how D66 recovered previously from its own post-coalition woes, see Liberal Democrat Newswire #72, including:

The essence of Ready for the Climb was that D66 should become a “vibrant party of ideas” again. For that purpose the party organisation needed to be reworked. With expert panels which aimed to encourage the involvement of people from the business world and civil society, and a talent head-hunting committee which would be looking for high quality potential recruits, who would then be mentored and trained in a ‘talent class’ for careers in council cabinets and the parliamentary party. Furthermore, D66 would need to grow from ten thousand to at least fifteen thousand paying members. “These were concrete goals that the party could get their teeth into,” Schouw says. “Such a campaign to gain members is manageable, and it earns us money to boot.”


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