The failure of Geert Wilders and his PVV party to top the poll in the Dutch election has convinced some that the European anti-establishment revolt is over. They are wrong. It is true that the new governing coalition will, like the old one, be centre-Right in hue. But prime minister Mark Rutte clung on to his job by stealing Mr Wilders’s agenda. He demanded that migrants integrate or leave, and picked a fight with the Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The most successful mainstream politicians today do not haughtily dismiss people’s fears about immigration, crime or economic change
Mr Wilders did not do as well as he had hoped, thankfully, but he still gained seats. Meanwhile, the centre-Left collapsed and the old Labour Party was almost destroyed. In its place now stand the Greens, which are far more radical. The new parliament will have lots of small parties elected by voters who no longer see the mainstream as defenders of their interests. The attention focused on Mr Wilders’s disappointment distracts from the wider picture of gathering chaos across Europe.
The world’s eyes now turn to France, where Marine Le Pen stands a very good chance of creeping into the second round of presidential elections. She will probably then be beaten, either by Francois Fillon or Emmanuel Macron. But, again, this would not represent a victory for the status quo. Mr Fillon is perhaps the most Right-wing Gaullist candidate in decades and Mr Macron is a Blairite reformer operating outside the party system.
The most successful mainstream politicians today do not haughtily dismiss people’s fears about immigration, crime or economic change, but try to address those issues and propose concrete solutions. There is a lesson there for those who want to get ahead in British politics.