•  A brief guide to the Dutch election: Will the rise of populism continue into 2017? [PDF]
  • By Matthew Elliott
  • March 2017
  • Published by the Legatum Institute

2016 delivered two major political shocks to the West with profound global consequences: first the decision by British voters to leave the European Union and then the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. These two events can be seen in a broader context of what some are referring to as the ‘rise of populism’, a realignment of politics away from the Third Way consensus started in the 1990s by Clinton, Blair and Schröder (and indeed their Dutch forerunner, Wim Kok) in favour of populist leaders and movements, from Podemos, Syriza and Momentum to Ukip, the Freedom Party of Austria and the 5 Star Movement.

As part of his Senior Fellowship, Matthew Elliott will be looking into the underlying factors contributing to the rise (or otherwise) of these populist movements, beginning with the Dutch general election on Wednesday15 March. His first report, published on the eve of that election, provides:

  • a useful overview of the Dutch political system, a guide to the parties and their leaders, and an explanation of the electoral system;
  • an overview of the recent polling and an indication of how this might translate into seats in Parliament and the formation of a new Coalition government;
  • a look at the economic, social and political similarities between the Netherlands, the UK and the US, drawing on data from the Legatum Prosperity Index, the OECD and Gallup;
  • a look at the similarities and differences between Geert Wilders, Trump and Brexit; and
  • a guide to five key points to look out for to understand the implications of the results when they come through.

“Some say that the recent polling success of Geert Wilders is just the Dutch manifestation of ‘Brexit’ and ‘Trump’”, Matthew writes in the Introduction. “There are others who claim that there is no similarity, that they are fundamentally different events with no common themes linking them. Both assertions are wrong.”

The report argues that there are important differences between Trump’s election and the Brexit vote, and that both are also distinct from the other populist insurgencies happening elsewhere. “It would be a mistake to assume that anyone who was pro-Brexit, is automatically pro-Trump, pro-Wilders or pro other countries leaving the EU. But while they are clear distinctions, international economic changes and global shifts in social attitudes point to some important similarities.”

In this series of papers, Matthew Elliott will compare and contrast these similarities and differences. For the forthcoming elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany, he will publish a brief guide to the vote on the eve of the election; put out some initial analysis immediately afterwards; and then edit a longer, more considered analysis by external authors at a later date.

This is not a completely new project for the Legatum Institute. In September 2016, the Institute published ‘48:52: Healing a Divided Britain’ in conjunction with the Centre for Social Justice. This project builds on that publication, and will also include a paper on the United States at a later date.

Read the full report here

Read Overnight Analysis: Dutch Election 2017 here.