How Geert Wilders wins even if he loses

The second and more significant point is that, even if he were to win more votes than the other candidates, it’s unlikely that Wilders would become Prime Minister. The Dutch system has about a dozen political parties. Almost never does one party win an outright majority. (The last time was in 1891.) To govern, a party with a plurality of votes must pull others into a coalition, and ever since Wilders’s rise the other major parties have publicly declared that they would never form a government with him. Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is seeking reëlection, said last month that there was a “zero per cent” chance that his V.V.D. party would link up with Wilders. Should Wilders win a plurality of votes but be unable to find other parties willing to govern with him, there would likely be a long period, perhaps months, in which specially appointed “informateurs” and “scouts” would try to cajole party leaders toward a coalition. If the other parties continue to honor their pledge to ice out Wilders, he would remain on the sidelines.

I have a feeling that is just fine with Wilders. It’s hard to imagine him thriving in the role of Prime Minister. Like Trump, Wilders is ego-driven. He knows that a Dutch Prime Minister has to tend daily to the minutiae of keeping his coalition together, parsing and debating pension reform, tax changes, deficit reduction, health care, Dutch sovereignty versus the E.U., military spending. Unlike the U.S., the Netherlands is a country built on consensus and collectivism. Its leader can’t make policy by issuing executive orders or simply roll over the opposition but, rather, must slog through the muck of competing ideas with people as diverse as the heads of the Socialists, the Social Democrats, the Christian Union Party, which builds its platform around the teachings of Jesus, and the Party for the Animals.

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