Dutch voters went to the polls last week and the results were, well, a bit muddled. Anyone claiming to have detected a dramatic and unequivocal message from the Netherlands is guilty of, at the very least, exaggerating the significance of an outcome that really was a mixed bag.
Headlines like the one in The Washington Post—where, full disclosure, I’m a contributing columnist—declaring that the Dutch elections add to evidence of “the far right’s global retreat” betray wishful thinking. There’s a good chance that the far right is in an initial phase of a global retreat, but that was not in evidence in the Netherlands.
Voting in the midst of the pandemic, the Dutch strengthened the position of Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD. Rutte, who will lead the government for a fourth time, is on track to become the Netherlands’ longest-serving prime minister by the summer of 2022.