Fear of Wilders Binds the Disparate Parties in the New Dutch Government

Fear of Wilders Binds the Disparate Parties in the New Dutch Government
A man poses as a crying Geert Wilders, the firebrand anti-Islam lawmaker, during a small demonstration outside parliament in The Hague, Netherlands, March 16, 2017 (AP photo by Peter Dejong).

The Dutch felt very proud when photographs of Prime Minister Mark Rutte riding his bicycle to a meeting with the king at the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague last week turned into a moderately viral international sensation. To the rest of the planet, it might seem disconcerting to see a world leader pedaling to a meeting with a monarch. But in the Netherlands, it’s everyday fare.

It was a quintessentially Dutch image: a powerful man disdaining the visible accoutrements of the mighty in favor of a “normal” way of life. And on this particular occasion, it served to make a point.

Rutte biked to the palace to inform King Willem-Alexander that, at long last, he had reached an agreement to form a new government. He was happy to see the images make the headlines, because the substance of the agreement points to a coalition that will be weak and vulnerable.

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