‘This election is about if we’re going to put up with the lying and dishonest political establishment… They tell stories to the public that almost everybody knows are not true. But there’s a moment when you’ve been living in a dream, and you know you’re waking up but you’re still half asleep. We’re at the point where we must decide if we want to see the world for what it really is.’
So says Thierry Baudet, founder of a new Dutch anti-EU party, Forum for Democracy (FvD). FvD is one of 28 parties contesting tomorrow’s election. The Netherlands’ proportional representation system makes coalitions inevitable, and Baudet’s party is one of many that has also triumphed from the fragmentation of the ‘lying and dishonest’ political class he rails against. The ruling coalition of prime minister Mark Rutte’s centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Labour Party (PvdA) has haemorrhaged support, opening the field for new parties on the left and right.
So what are Dutch politicians lying about? Baudet, a 34-year-old journalist and academic, was catapulted into politics when the FvD – then a think-tank – fought for a referendum last year to reject the Ukraine-EU association agreement. More than 60 per cent of the vote sided with Baudet against the agreement. And yet, as is custom with EU referendums, the result was ignored. ‘[Rutte] took a couple of grievances that we have regarding the association agreement… and just added it to the Dutch version of the agreement. But Ukraine has never signed it.’
Baudet talks of the established parties as a ‘cartel’ which in their embrace of Brussels have removed politics from the people. ‘They have allowed mass immigration, diluted our sovereignty, and they have by and large all agreed on those policies, while the people by and large opposed them. The people never wanted this. They never signed up for a continental super state. They were never enthusiastic about mass immigration. And they have been bullied into accepting it because otherwise they would be labelled racists or xenophobes.’
FvD is against mass migration. ‘We see increasing divides between the immigrant populations and the native populations, which is made worse by elites that continue to keep our borders open’, Baudet says. His political awakening came through a series of events post-9/11 that woke him up to what he sees as the Netherlands’ problem with radical Islam and Muslim immigration: in 2002, the gay anti-Islam politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated; and in 2004, the filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim who took offence at his film, Submission.