August 7, 2020

Thierry Baudet, the politician who overflowed the base of the Dutch far right

Dutch politician Thierry Baudet, whose Forum for Democracy party was the most voted in this week's Senate elections, has overflowed the traditional base of the Dutch far right by appealing to an idealized national identity and denying climate change.

Holland is living these days a kind of "déjà vu" that returns to 2001. As then, unemployment data today record lows and the economy is going well, but the outlook seems unstable.

In this context, an extravagant intellectual with the air of a provocateur and a certain presence in the media lands in politics and says in public what many only comment in private.

That role was embodied in 2001 by Pim Fortuyn, whose criticisms of the multicultural society, Islam and political correctness raised him to the top of the wave, reaching more than 30% of the vote in the municipal elections of Rotterdam. A year later he was killed by an environmental activist and his party could not survive without his leadership.

The witness has been picked up since then by the leader of the PVV, Geert Wilders, but Thierry Baudet has widened the electoral base of the Dutch far right. He is young (36 years old), charismatic, with a degree in History and a Doctorate in Law. Although the speeches of both agree on many points, their ways are almost antagonistic.

"The public image of Wilders, his style and even his origin – the province of Limburg – makes part of the electorate see him as too ordinary, but that does not happen with Baudet," Sebastiaan Faber, professor at the University of Oberlin, told Efe.

Baudet boasts of his knowledge in public. He has recited in Latin during sessions in the Lower House and requested permission to place a piano in his parliamentary office. It serves to relax between debate and debate, he said.

His projection as "outsider", alien to the system, is "much more genuine than Wilders," adds Faber, since the leader of the PVV has been a professional politician for over twenty years.

The new reference of the Dutch far right directed an ideas laboratory called the Forum for Democracy (FVD) that became a political party only two and a half years ago.

During the last electoral campaign, Baudet played a video with images of Holland in which he appealed to patriotism and to recover the greatness of the country, a speech reminiscent of that of the president of the United States, Donald Trump.

Another of its strengths in the campaign was the criticism of the Government's energy and environment policies.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte was forced by the country's courts to push for an energy agenda that complies with the Paris Agreement, by which greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced.

The measures have had an impact on electricity and gas bills "and that costs people a lot of money.If you're against, you only have two parties to go to: the PVV of Wilders and the FVD of Baudet", explains analyst Chris Aalberts to Efe.

From the economic point of view, "it is not very clear if Baudet is from the right or from the left," adds Aalberts.

On the one hand, it is in favor of raising pensions, recovering a subsidy policy for students that favored the lowest incomes and that the first 20,000 euros of salary do not count to calculate the IRPF. On the other hand, he has asked to reduce all the ranges of the IRPF and to end the inheritance tax, so that the income of the State would be reduced significantly.

The FVD has captured the electorate that in the previous elections voted mostly to other right-wing parties, such as the PVV (30%), the VVD (16%) or the Christian Democrats of the CDA (10%), according to a study by Ipsos for the public network NOS.

However, the "bites" to the four main parties of the left are not negligible, since they reach 11%.

David Morales Urbaneja


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