The outcome of the imminent Dutch elections could influence the popularity of extreme right wing parties across Europe, according to a UNSW academic.
Speaking to InvestorDaily, University of New South Wales lecturer in politics Carolien van Ham noted the election in the Netherlands, being held from 7:30am 15 March central European time, was “the first one in a series of European elections this year” and its result may affect the decisions of French and German voters later in the year.
“There’s this worry that if the populist right wins in the Netherlands it will have this knock-on effect of emboldening the extreme right in other countries,” she said.
Perpetual head of investment strategy for multi asset Matt Sherwood agreed that the “real danger” in the Dutch election was its potential impact on sentiment elsewhere.
“I don’t think the Dutch Prime Minister is going to lose, but if he has a narrow win or if Mr Wilders actually gets a substantial foothold in the Dutch parliament, then quite naturally it will have a flow on effect straight away to [French presidential candidate] Marine Le Pen,” Mr Sherwood said.
The Netherlands uses a proportional electoral system, wherein partys receive a percentage of parliamentary seats proportional to the percentage of the vote they received at a national level, with the party with the largest voter share leading the formation of a coalition.
Dutch polls currently anticipate the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), led by current Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, will take around 17 per cent of the voter share, only 3 per cent more than Geert Wilders’ populist right Party for Freedom (PVV).
Dr van Ham said that while it is still possible for the populist PVV to stage an upset victory over the centrist right VVD and form a coalition with the intention of triggering a referendum on European Union membership, this result was unlikely.
“The polls seem to show that the Dutch voters are going back to the middle,” she said.