The negative reaction to the PVV election victory in the Netherlands from the Dutch anti-institutional news sphere
Last year, the Dutch right wing party, Party for Freedom (PVV), obtained an historical victory in the national elections. Many reactions to this election result have been noted, but this blog post will highlight the reaction to the election result from the Dutch alternative news sphere, linked to the concept of anti-institutionalism, which refers to Dutch people who have banded together in various online spaces over the sentiment that mainstream news, either willfully or foolishly, fails to provide the perspective on the news that they would like to see. Although the PVV is commonly considered an anti-establishment party, the alternative news websites have generally received the news of its victory poorly. Although this may seem counter-intuitive, it fits well with a world view that is inherently based on distrust of what mainstream media reports on.
When this post discusses the alternative sphere, it refers to the online sphere that is united by what is closely related to what has been defined by the AIVD as the anti-institutional sentiment, defined as individuals and groups that target a malicious and fluidly defined elite that is in power and wishes to subjugate the common people. Associated with this undercurrent is a large network of organizations that sprang up in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, which were all dedicated to countering mainstream narratives about the crisis, the governmental responses to it and occasionally organizing protests or other forms of collective action to resist these.
In my research, my aim is to understand the worldview and mindset of the people active in this sphere. Most often when they describe themselves and their own network of news organizations, they self-define as ‘alternative news’, which is why this blog post will use the same term throughout. Part of this research has been a daily visit to various Dutch news websites that have set out to bring the public this alternative news. Although most of these organizations mainly focused on bringing the alternative news about COVID-19 and the measures to combat it, frequent topics on alternative news websites are now the World Economic Forum, the negative effects of vaccines and other modern medicine and the oppressive danger that “woke-mania” poses. The writers and readership identify as ‘awake’, because unlike the sleeping mass, they see the world for what it really is and understand the true systems that underlie it.
Although the PVV is also generally considered anti-establishment, the general Dutch alternative news sphere reactions to the PVV victory have been largely negative. Prominent Dutch alternative newspaper ‘De Andere Krant [The Other Newspaper/Side]’ ran the headline “Victory over establishment parties- but disappointment dominates” in the week after the election. There are two main sentiments that prevail on the network of online alternative news social media.
The first and most prominent complaint that is found in the alternative news sphere is the sentiment that Geert Wilders and the PVV are too moderate to solve the problems that this group cares about. There is resentment towards Wilders’ compliance with the Dutch governmental COVID measures: “I remember him sitting there with his little mouth diaper and his little mRNA-stab in his arm.” One commenter on the Samen voor Nederland Facebook page (the organizers of the first large scale anti-COVID measures protests in the Netherlands) writes: “WE HAVE MORE PROBLEMS TO WORRY ABOUT WITH POLITICIANS WHO HAVE A DOUBLE AGENDA (WEF) [World Economic Forum], THAN WITH HUSTLING MOROCCANS.”
Related to this sentiment are the people who dislike Wilders’ support for the state of Israel and assume this means that he will be more loyal to them than to the Netherlands. Alternative blogging website Niburu writes: “Geert Wilders is and remains a seasoned Zionist who will never really do anything that will harm the club in the background. After all, they control both left and right.” It should however be noted that antisemitic discussions are relatively rare in the Dutch alternative news sphere.
In addition to the dissatisfaction with the PVV as a party, the second prominent sentiment is that, despite the election result, the established parties will not allow the PVV to rise to a position of power either way. “One more time for the sleeping people […], Wilders will not become Prime Minister. Rutte told you the plan 3.5 years ago. When Rutte is gone to NATO in half a year, Kaag will take over from him. […] Eventually after 1.5 to 2 years, the fat one [this likely refers to Frans Timmermans] will become Prime Minister.” This same post adds: “You can get angry at us, but we understand how the game is played.”
Despite it all, some commenters can still see the bright side in the PVV victory. The Samen voor Nederland Facebook page links to a Telegram post that states: “Even so, it’s a giant victory for the truth. Why? Because it shows that the population is waking up. Of course, they don’t understand yet that the PVV will not help them and will keep pushing them ice cold into the abyss. But that’s good. Then the mask will come off the PVV as well. And then the masses will finally understand that for real change, they will have to look at the FvD.”
Of course, the two main negative reactions to the PVV election victory are not mutually exclusive. A commenter may be of the opinion that Geert Wilders is part of the lying establishment just as much as the rest of them, and also be of the opinion that all of that is irrelevant, because other established parties, or a behind the scenes larger organization, will not allow him to come into power anyway. A world view based on an inherent distrust of mainstream media and the events it reports, cannot abide a major event without assuming that there must be a second layer or a trap to it. Understanding the world view of the alternative sphere is important for understanding what draws people to it and understanding what type of solutions may appeal to them.