In the event of the end of the world, Heinrich Heine wanted to emigrate to Holland, “because everything didn’t happen there until fifty years later”. The observation of the German poet from the 19th century has long been reversed: what is happening in the Netherlands can also be observed in Germany and other countries on the continent with a delay.
This applied to the first McDonald's restaurant in Europe, which opened in Zaandam in 1971, it applied to the introduction of part-time models, to the advance of the English language in everyday life, to the confrontation with Islam, and it applied to the fragmentation of the party landscape.
In the provincial elections on Wednesday, which also decided on the composition of the first chamber (similar to the Bundesrat in Germany), 18 parties moved into the Dutch upper house. And the winner of the election triggered a political tremor: The still young Farmers' Citizens' Movement (BBB) party became the country's strongest force from the start.
Crucial to the election victory, which was even better than the opinion polls had predicted, was the anger of the rural population in particular at the climate measures taken by Mark Rutte's governing coalition in The Hague, as a result of which many farmers fear for their livelihoods. The Netherlands, with its 17.5 million inhabitants and the size of Lower Saxony, is the second largest agricultural exporter in the world after the USA. At the same time, the country is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Europe.
But the BBB has also had notable success in the cities, where it appears to appeal to those who feel the government cares about everything but the prosperity and security of ordinary people.
“Right-wing populist” is an inadequate description of the BBB. In terms of social policy, the movement is more to the left, and it stands firmly on the side of Ukraine. She also advocates further use of nuclear power. "Guys, what the fuck is going on here?" said the overwhelmed leading candidate Caroline van der Plas, a resolute and down-to-earth 55-year-old former journalist who was once active in the Christian Democrats, on election night. A formulation that Alice Weidel would not have chosen.
The big surprise winner of the provincial elections four years ago, the right-wing populist "Forum for Democracy" of the dandy Thierry Baudet, lost the most of all parties - the voters' receipt for internal quarrels with radicals and Baudet's pro-Russia course, which described Putin as a "hero". designated.
The German parties would do well to look to the Netherlands from time to time. Dramatic political shifts can once again be observed in the neighboring country, which could one day also happen in this or something similar in this country. Not tomorrow, but also not – to reverse the words of Heinrich Heine – in fifty years.