The politics of hope: Dutch Green gains

The unreported rise of Green parties in Europe has been exemplified by gains in the recent Dutch election

Molly Scott Cato
Tue 25 Apr 2017

The mainstream media have had one story about Europe over the past several years: the rise of the far right. What they have been missing is the collapse of the social democrat left, and in many cases the parallel rise of the Greens.

The first evidence of this was when the former leader of the Austrian Greens became president of that country last autumn. And now we see a similar pattern of a huge upsurge of support for Green values and policies in the Netherlands general election.

The Netherlands has an extremely proportional system and a great deal of movement between different parties, but the big winners on the night were the Greens, who saw their vote increase fourfold. Much credit should be given to their charismatic leader, Jesse Klaver, who has been compared with both Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama. He wears his mixed-heritage ancestry as a badge of pride and has used it to develop a message of hope, inclusiveness, and global solidarity that was diametrically opposed to the message of hate coming from the far right.

The political landscape is changing, and people's attitude to globalisation is now defining how they vote. There is a clear divide that runs along generational lines. Broadly, older generations feel challenged by the rapid change and the fact that migration and travel are now in both directions and no longer just the preserve of the wealthy westerner. Meanwhile, most young people embrace the reality of the global village and recognise their place as citizens of a world they share and need to protect. As climate change and other trans- border issues dominate the politics of the 21st century, we may see more elections where the choice is between the far-right populists and the Greens.

Although you may not have heard this through your media channels, while the Green vote quadrupled, the vote for Geert Wilders's far-right party was actually no greater than it had been in 2010. So please tell your friends: it's the Greens who are on the move, and our message of hope is inspiring people across the continent.