Many traditional parties are trying to co-opt the agenda of the radical right in order to defeat them. But various elections in 2018 reveal the limits of that approach
After the Dutch parliamentary elections of March 2017, the prime minister, Mark Rutte, triumphantly declared that “good populism” had defeated “bad populism”, a claim eagerly and uncritically repeated in media around the world. It confirmed received wisdom that the best way to defeat the populist radical right, is to co-opt a moderate version of their agenda, while excluding the party itself.
Few cared that Rutte’s claim rested on dubious empirical grounds: compared with the 2012 election, Rutte actually lost big (-5.2%), whereas Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom (PVV) made gains (+3.0%) and was joined by a new far-right party, Forum for Democracy (FvD), with 1.8%, making their combined scored of 14.9%. That’s less than one percentage point lower than the PVV’s high score of 15.45% in 2010.