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‘4 years of climate change denial’: Dutch environmental groups react to far-right election swing

PVV leader Geert Wilders reacts to the results of the Dutch election on Wednesday night.
PVV leader Geert Wilders reacts to the results of the Dutch election on Wednesday night. Copyright Remko de Wall/ ANP / AFP
Copyright Remko de Wall/ ANP / AFP
By Ian Smith
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The far-right party PVV's election victory has raised fears over how it could impact the country’s climate ambitions.

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Environmental groups have expressed shock and promised climate action in response to Dutch election results. Wednesday night saw the historic victory of the far right Party for Freedom (PVV).

The party, led by Geert Wilders, is projected to win 37 seats in the 150 seat Dutch parliament, putting it in the driver's seat to form a new government.

“We are shocked,” Extinction Rebellion Netherlands says. “This outcome will likely mean a rollback of climate measures, new fossil investments, exclusion of marginalised groups, and more.”

Friends of the Earth Netherlands spelled out what PVV’s rule could mean for Dutch society: “A Wilders government will mean four years of climate change denial, exclusion and a breakdown of the rule of law.”

What is the PVV’s position on climate change?

Environmentalists' concerns are based on the PVV manifesto.

It declares: "We have been made to fear climate change for decades... We must stop being afraid."

“The climate is always changing, for centuries,” the document goes on to say. "When conditions change we adapt. We do this through sensible water management, by raising dykes when necessary and by making room for the river. But we stop the hysterical reduction of CO2, with which, as a small country, we wrongly think we can "save" the climate.”

The manifesto also calls for more oil and gas extraction from the North Sea and keeping coal and gas power stations open.

Natuur & Milieu, a Dutch environmental organisation, believes politicians need to be honest about the challenges the Netherlands face because of the climate crisis.

It says the election shows that “some Dutch people did not feel sufficiently represented by the incumbent political parties” and that “trust in politics and support for policy is also crucial for climate and nature policy.”

Wilders’ extreme views and anti-Islam stance have made him an inflammatory figure. He supports a vote on leaving the EU and has been found guilty in court of insulting Morrocans.

Will the far right be able to form a government?

Despite the record win there are still significant barriers to the PVV entering government.

On Friday morning Dilan Yesilgöz, the leader of the VVD, who are projected to have 24 seats, said the party will not be entering into government with the PVV. According to Dutch media she did say that the VVD would be willing to tacitly support a center-right Cabinet.

Frans Timmermans, the leader of an alliance of the centre-left Labor Party and Greens, also ruled out entering government with his 25 MPs alongside the PVV.

Others may be more willing though. The leader of the New Social Contract party, which was only launched three months ago, said he would be open to talks with Wilders. The party won an estimated 20 seats in the election.

Whatever happens, a new government is likely going to take a long time to form.

Greenpeace activists unfurled a banner below the prime minister's office and outgoing PM Mark Rutte opened the window to speak with them briefly.
Greenpeace activists unfurled a banner below the prime minister's office and outgoing PM Mark Rutte opened the window to speak with them briefly.Tengbeh Kamara / Greenpeace

How have climate activists responded to the election result?

In the meantime environmental activists are sure to put pressure on their politicians. On Thursday afternoon four protesters from Greenpeace held a banner saying ‘No climate denier as our prime minister’ outside the Torentje, the prime minister’s office, in the Hague.

As Extinction Rebellion says, “The future of everything and everyone is at stake. So we will continue to take action.”

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