The victory of the far right in the Netherlands

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By JUAN TORRES LÓPEZ*

The extreme right appears because, at the same time, the left disappears or loses direction, they divide themselves, privileging identity and territorial issues or telling society what is or is not politically correct.

The recent victory of the extreme right in the general elections in the Netherlands (Holland) only surprised those who were oblivious to what has been happening in that country over the last thirteen years. Since then, the liberal right has governed, led by Mark Rutte, who has not stopped implementing tax cuts for the richest, privatizations and cuts in expenses and social benefits.

The Netherlands, for example, has one of the most regressive tax systems in Europe: the percentage of income spent on taxes for most income groups is around 40%, but only 20% for the richest 1% of the population. .

Successive liberal governments followed a market-oriented housing policy, which increased access difficulties for the middle class, without improving it for people with lower incomes, which caused a sharp increase in prices.

Mark Rutte said, at the beginning of his term, that he had to put an end to the idea that, according to him, his compatriots had of the State: “a little happiness machine”. To achieve this, he cut investments and expenses, causing a worsening of public health, transport, education and assistance services (in 2015, assistance to the elderly and their dependents became a family “obligation”). The director of UNICEF in the Netherlands reported in 2018 that, in this prosperous country, the rights of vulnerable children were left aside.

Over the last thirteen years, successive liberal governments have carried out a veritable plundering of the income and rights of the middle and low-income classes, at the same time as they have transformed their country into the most aggressive tax haven in Europe, granting all kinds of tax favors. and financial services to large companies.

Perhaps the most obvious proof of this spoliation is that families in the Netherlands have the highest debt in relation to their gross disposable income in all of Europe: 187,03% in the first quarter of this year, double that of Spanish families (89,4 %).

The strategy followed by Dutch liberals (like those in other countries) to prevent this plunder from translating into social revolt was twofold. On the one hand, blaming the working classes for the waste of public money and, on the other, blaming immigration for all the harm that was happening to them.

The first reached its most shameful peak in 2021: even the government had to resign, when it was discovered that it had accused more than 30 low-income families of fraud in social benefits, without any basis. Around 70.000 children were the main victims of the false accusation and 1.115 ended up in foster care because of it.

The discourse against immigration did not stop, becoming increasingly stronger, as plundering grew, when, in fact, immigrant workers are in the lowest paid and precarious jobs and the problems associated with immigration have to do with , above all, with the weakening of the aforementioned public and social services.

Contrary to what happened a few decades ago, the liberal right does not hide the plundering that occurs when it governs. Recognize it now, but blame immigration or the dispossessed themselves (as my fellow liberal economists say, because they don't invest enough in themselves).

This is when the extreme right appears, offering help (sovereignty, security, traditional values, defense of the nation...) and protection against the enemy that comes to take “what is ours”.

However, the extreme right appears because, at the same time, the left disappears or loses its direction. Instead of focusing on the socioeconomic issues that really condition people's lives with an ecumenical discourse, aimed at the great social majorities to protect them from a transversal and common sense perspective, they divide and fragment themselves to identify with the interests of small segments or minority groups of the population, privileging identity and territorial issues or telling society what is or is not politically correct. Unable to stop what comes at us.

*Juan Torres Lopez He is a professor of economics at the University of Sevilla. Author, among other books, of The basic income (Planet).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.

Originally published on the website You want to write.


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