Anti-Immigration Populist Parties Gain Influence in Dutch and Belgian Politics

Anti-immigration populist parties gain ground in the Netherlands and Belgium, challenging mainstream politics. Student elections and Geert Wilders' failed coalition bid reflect the ongoing battle between populists and the establishment.

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Justice Nwafor
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Anti-Immigration Populist Parties Gain Influence in Dutch and Belgian Politics

Anti-Immigration Populist Parties Gain Influence in Dutch and Belgian Politics

Anti-immigration populist parties are on the rise in the Netherlands and Belgium, according to recent developments in both countries. In the Netherlands, two new student parties with right-wing leanings, the Free-thinking Student Party (VSP) and Better Living For Students (BLFS), have joined the University Council elections this year. VSP in particular aims to represent conservative students who feel underrepresented by the existing student parties.

Meanwhile in Belgium, the anti-immigration Vlaams Belang party led by Tom Van Grieken has become the most popular party in the country. Van Grieken seeks Flemish independence and believes Belgium is a "failed state." He envisions a "velvet divorce" similar to the Czech and Slovak republics, with the Flemish parliament voting for a declaration of sovereignty.

The rise of these parties comes as the annual National Conservative conference was held in Brussels, featuring far-right politicians expressing anti-immigration and nationalist views. Speakers at the conference, which was threatened with shutdown by Belgian police, criticized the European Union and mainstream political parties.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) also won a dramatic victory in the November 2023 parliamentary elections on an anti-immigration platform, though Wilders was eventually unable to form a coalition government and become prime minister. Wilders has courted controversy with past statements criticizing the Quran and the Moroccan population in the Netherlands.

Why this matters: The growing influence of anti-immigration populist parties in the Netherlands and Belgium reflects a broader trend of rising support for nationalist and Euroskeptic movements across Europe. While mainstream parties are expected to retain power, they may face reduced majorities as disillusioned voters turn to far-right alternatives.

The upcoming Dutch student elections and the inability of Geert Wilders to become prime minister despite his party's electoral gains demonstrate the ongoing battle between populist challengers and the political establishment in both countries. As Tom Van Grieken of Vlaams Belang stated at the National Conservative Conference, the populists believe the "time is running out" for their mainstream rivals.

Key Takeaways

  • Anti-immigration populist parties gaining ground in Netherlands, Belgium
  • New right-wing student parties join University Council elections in Netherlands
  • Vlaams Belang party becomes most popular in Belgium, seeks Flemish independence
  • National Conservative conference in Brussels features far-right, anti-EU speakers
  • Populist challengers gain support, but mainstream parties retain power for now