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King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands recently visited Albany, Atlanta, and New York City in a state visit that highlighted the cultural and economic ties – including semiconductor research and development – between the US and the small, affluent West European country, according to Spectrum News Albany.

The king and queen coincidentally embarked on their trip as political controversies at home raged.

Hard-right political parties, including anti-Islam, anti-migrant, Euroskeptic firebrand Geert Wilders’ Party of Freedom, were the top vote-getters in the Netherlands’ general election late last year. Wilders was too divisive to gain the support of other parties to become prime minister but, after months of negotiations, he has become the kingmaker who will exert control over the next Dutch government.

“I would like a right-wing cabinet,” wrote Wilders on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, reported the BBC. “Less asylum and immigration. Dutch people first. The love for my country and voters is great and more important than my own position.”

In the wake of recent European Parliament elections which saw steep gains for far-right parties in Western Europe, the Netherlands, which held elections in November, is being watched closely in France, Germany, Belgium, Austria and elsewhere, possibly as a harbinger of what’s to come.

The next Dutch prime minister will likely be Dick Schoof, a 67-year-old former intelligence and anti-terrorism official who was working in the Dutch justice ministry and also ran the country’s immigration service around 20 years ago, Reuters wrote.

Schoof’s lack of political experience stands in stark contrast to his predecessor, Mark Rutte, a liberal who was in office for 14 years and was deeply involved in the European Union, added Euronews. Highlighting his deep ties to the European establishment that Wilders criticizes, Rutte is in line to become the next secretary-general of NATO.

Embarrassments have already rocked Wilders’ coalition.

Wilders, for example, wanted Israeli-Dutch politician Gidi Markuzower, a Party for Freedom official, to become the minister responsible for asylum and migration, explained the Jewish Telegraph Agency. But Markuzower failed a security check – for unspecified reasons – that caused Wilders to pull support for him. In addition, Markuzower had been arrested in 2008 for carrying an unlicensed firearm. Officials had also warned Wilders in the past that Markuzower had been sharing state secrets with Israel.

Another colorful cabinet nominee garnering criticism for lack of experience in government is Femke Wiersma, 39, of the Farmer-Citizen Movement, a party that emerged in 2019 to protest against Rutte’s measures to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, Politico wrote. Wiersma famously met her husband, a dairy farmer, on a television reality show called “Farmer Wants a Wife” before co-founding the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) – a protest party launched in 2019 that won in local elections in March 2023.

These folks are ideological allies with other far-right leaders in Europe, including French opposition leader Marine Le Pen, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni, wrote the Associated Press. Their allies recently won big in the European Parliament elections held on June 6, suggesting a rightward turn on the continent with voters concerned about migration, inflation, and other issues, CNN reported.

They are, in other words, the mainstream now. And that has its own set of issues, namely voter fatigue.

That has been fully on display in post-communist central Europe, where on the other hand, “the far-right parties and their illiberal counterparts suffered a setback in a region that appeared to be their cradle,” Le Monde wrote.

For example, in Poland, a month before the Dutch elections, Prime Minister Donald Tusk defeated the center-right coalition Law and Justice party after eight years in power. And in the European Parliament elections, the center-left parties in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania, all countries with powerful far-right parties, won decisively. In Hungary, the ruling Fidesz retained its lead – but lost ground for the first time in 20 years to a party started only four months ago by a former Fidesz official.

“Perhaps the takeaway from these results is that voters are disillusioned with populist parties in power,” wrote Le Monde. “In these regions, the war in Ukraine and the proximity of the Russian threat also played a mobilizing role in favor of resolutely pro-European parties, with the European Union and the unity of its members seen as a form of protection.”

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