Wilder’s Defeat and the European Union

On Wednesday, the Netherlands held the most important general election since the creation of the European Union. Most analysts suggested that, without a doubt, its results would determine the political future of the European project (including a potential dissolution).

After the rise of fascism in countries such as the UK and the US, the odds of victory for xenophobic and anti-European parties represented in the Netherlands by Geert Wilders, were higher than ever.

Over the last year, Wilders had expressed his desire to split with the European Union countless times, and the fear of that happening turned the Dutch elections into a referendum. As a result, the 13 million citizens eligible to vote had in their hands the hard task of deciding whether to remain in the EU or open a Pandora’s Box and begin its dissolution.

Months before the elections, the predictions were clearly favorable for Wilders. Most of the national polls suggested a clear victory for him, and some of them gave him 46% of the vote. On the other side, his great rival, the previous prime minister and candidate, Mark Rutte, spent most of the campaign persuading Dutch citizens that Wilders was “on the wrong side of populism.” His chances of winning were very low since most of the polls gave him catastrophic results.

However, (and fortunately for the European Union), the above-mentioned prognosis was erroneous, and despite winning 5 more seats than in the previous elections, the VPP of Wilders obtained 20 seats out of 150.

The winner of the elections was the VVD of Rutte who obtained 33 seats, 13 ahead of Wilders. Despite losing 8 seats compared to the previous elections, he declared that he was euphoric with the results. Considering that not even the most optimistic person believed in his victory, the final results were extraordinarily good.

Despite his victory, Rutte will have a hard task going forward if he wants to become the next prime minister for the third consecutive time. His victory is insufficient to form a government. For that reason, he will need to negotiate with at least three more political parties to form a coalition. Due to the complexity of the situation, it will take several months before he can form a stable government.

Dutch citizens delivered a clear message to the international community:

“We want neither bigotry nor populism in our country.”

Despite the citizens’ clear message refusing bigotry and populism, no one should forget that millions of them voted for Rutte because it was considered the best option to defeat Wilders. He represents the establishment, and as such, he will put the interests of the wealthy before those of the middle and working class.

Without a doubt, the defeat of Wilders was great news for the European Union, and this will contribute to decreasing populism in other countries. However, there is still a lot of work to do in the Netherlands to build a fair society where no one is discriminated against regardless of sexual, political, and religious orientation.

For the moment, the European Union has been able, temporarily, stall a critical threat to its existence. But unless its structure changes soon and the EU brings about equality among all its Members States, the alleged fascist’s populism will become a serious menace for the EU again.

The Truth is that the European Union has lost the appeal that it once had. The existing inequalities among member states in the EU, (notably ascendent Germany, which during the hardest moments of the global financial crisis, far from being supportive, took away benefits from the poorest countries in the Union), have contributed to the rise of populism all across Europe.

When countries such as Greece were going through catastrophic times, the German economy was in perfect condition without any signs of weakness. Later it was revealed that Germany took away vitality from countries such as Greece by demanding they pay back loans with exorbitant interest rates.

It is clear then that, without structural changes and more equality, the dissolution of the European Union will soon be inevitable.

Pending the arrival of big structural changes, the European Union will soon be tested again in upcoming elections in Germany and France. Fortunately, now that the Dutch elections are over, populism will not have many chances to win, but as I have said, structural changes must soon be done or it (populism) may increase its odds to obtain good results. 

Conflict Between Turkey and The Netherlands: The Winners and Losers.

On Saturday, just four days before the Dutch elections and one month before Turkey holds a crucial constitutional referendum (on expanding Turkish presidential powers), a new diplomatic dispute began between the Netherlands and Turkey.

Everything began when the Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced he would visit Rotterdam to call on Turkish expatriates to vote favorably on the referendum. Right after this announcement, the Dutch authorities notified Cavusoglu that he was banned from entering the country, alleging that there was a risk to public order and security.

Despite the ban, Cavusoglu decided to take a plane to the Netherlands. In response, the Dutch government withdrew landing permission for him and his aides, forcing him to land in Germany. Once in Germany, the minister Cavusoglu said:

“This decision is a scandal and unacceptable in every way. It does not abide by diplomatic principles.”

“Listen Netherlands, you’ll jump once, you’ll jump twice, but my people will thwart your game,” he said. “You can cancel our foreign minister’s flight as much as you want, but let’s see how your flights will come to Turkey now.” “They don’t know diplomacy or politics. They are Nazi remnants. They are fascists,” said the Turkish President Erdogan.

After the minister’s incident, the Dutch government released a statement reaffirming its decision and expanding the ban to all Turkish ministers. However, Turkey’s family minister, Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya decided to evade the prohibition and went to Rotterdam from Germany by car. Once in Rotterdam, Fatma Betul attempted to enter the Turkish consulate, but due to her illegal status in the country, the Dutch authorities proceeded to detain her and later deported her to Germany.

“Netherlands is violating all international laws, conventions and human rights by not letting me enter Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam,” said Fatma Betul.

After Fatima’s detention, a crowd of 1000 pro-Erdogan supporters who had gathered near the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam turned violent. Due to such violence, the police demanded them to dissolve the protest, but given their refusal, the police proceeded to disperse the protest. This happened when the protesters reacted even more violently by causing riots and damage to urban surroundings.

After the incident, the Dutch government said it considered the Turkish family minister undesirable and a “persona non grata.”

“We do not want the Dutch ambassador to Ankara to return from leave for some time,” said the goverment.

Geert Wilders, the right-wing candidate in the next Dutch elections, said: “to all Turks in the Netherlands: Go to Turkey and never come back!!”

On Sunday, a Turkish protester took down the Dutch flag flying over the consulate in Istanbul and replaced it with a Turkish flag. Footage of the incident showed a man on the roof shouting “Allahu Akbar” as the flag was replaced.

On Monday, the continued escalation of the conflict aroused suspicions about the real motive of the conflict, and why it had begun precisely when both countries face the most important election in decades.

Everything suggests that Turkish President Erdogan was looking for this confrontation. As previously mentioned, Turkey will soon hold a constitutional referendum, and the government is not sure about its results. In this context, a diplomatic conflict against the Netherlands will help Erdogan to mobilize his supporters and persuade his opponents to support him on the referendum.

In addition, the existing conflict has aroused nationalism among Turkish citizens. As a result, many of those who had concerns about giving Erdogan more power will now support him to keep the country united against foreign threats.

Erdogan is also using the existing nationalist arousal to brainwash Turkish citizens by suggesting that Western citizens are Nazis and anti-Muslims. This maneuver allows him to divert attention from his domestic authoritarian actions and constant violations of human rights.

Despite the fact that Erdogan already has a lot of power to make decisions, he knows that the approval of the constitutional changes is the last step to implement a full authoritarian system in Turkey.

On the other side, the conflict between the Netherlands and Turkey is also benefiting the Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders. The Netherlands will hold general elections tomorrow, and as in Turkey, the escalation of the conflict has also awakened a nationalist feeling among its citizens. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Dutch citizens who did not initially support Wilders finally will.

Dutch citizens did not like to see a thousand Turks flying foreign flags and supporting a dictator in Rotterdam. They did not like to see the provocative behavior of Turk’s representatives ignoring the ban and entering the Netherlands.

Like in all conflicts, there are also losers in this story, and this time, they are the citizens from both countries, who under an enormous pressure, will have to decide their political future, and democracy which could soon be totally eliminated from both countries.

Wilders and Erdogan’s game has already started, and citizens will have to choose between democracy and dictatorship. Their decisions will also determine the future political world and the incitement of new conflicts. The die is cast. 

Republicans and Democrats: The Hypocritical Team

Since its beginnings, Wikileaks has aroused both hatred and veneration among its followers and detractors as much as any other worldwide organization. However, what is most striking is that a large number of these people, including Donald Trump and the U.S. Democratic Party, have changed their opinions about Wikileaks several times over the last few years, revealing a high degree of hypocrisy.

In 2010, after Wikileaks published hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos provided by Chelsea Manning, President Trump said:

“WikiLeaks is disgraceful, there should be like the death penalty or something.”

At the time of the above statement, Trump was often criticizing Wikileaks and its staffers. However, during the last Presidential campaign, Trump changed his mind, and started to praise Wikileaks’ work while encouraging the group to continue disclosing secrets related to John Podesta and Hillary Clinton. He also suggested that Wikileaks was the most reliable media organization in the world.

On Tuesday, Wikileaks disclosed the largest leak of classified CIA documents to date, exposing that the CIA had been hacking electronic devices for surveillance in mass, even abroad  (including the techniques used to break said electronic devices).

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said:

“While I don’t want to get into confirming or denying this particular thing, I think it is interesting that — how different subjects are approached. People immediately began rushing to question this, and expressed that there should be a lot more coverage going on.This alleged leak should concern every single American in terms of the impact it has on our national security.”

“It’s interesting how there’s sort of a double standard with when the leaks occur, how much outrage there is,” Spicer observed, referring to internal leaks which have plagued the Trump campaign in the media.

“The idea that we are having these ongoing disclosures of national security and classified information should be something that everybody is outraged over in this country,” he added.

About the specific WikiLeaks accusations, he said: “You know all of these occurred under the last administration. That is important. All of these alleged issues.”

“There’s a big difference between disclosing John Podesta’s Gmail accounts, about a back and forth and his undermining of Hillary Clinton, and his thoughts of her on a personal nature and the leaking of classified information.”

Spicer also suggested that the U.S. will prosecute all those who are behind the latest disclosures, including any Wikileaks staffers. He added that Trump’s concerns likely stem from the threats that the information could pose to national security.

Spicer’s statements revealed that President Trump has changed his opinion about Wikileaks again, demonstrating that the President only considers his personal interest. When Wikileaks was revealing secrets favorable to his campaign, it was the best journalistic organization ever, but when it does the same to governmental institutions during his term, the group suddenly turns into a criminal organization.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Democratic Party and its supporters have gone through the same mental gymnastics. During Manning’s disclosures, most liberals and Democrats officials supported Wikileaks amidst Manning’s leaks, because they saw the organization as one exposing the truth of government corruption. However, during the last presidential campaign, most of the Democrats decided to change their opinion about Wikileaks and its founder, alleging that they were colluding with Russia to help Trump win the election.

As if that were not enough, after the last Wikileaks disclosure, a large number of Democrats (including those who suggested that Wikileaks was colluding with Russia) have changed their minds again and now think that Wikileaks is a reliable and honorable organization.

These extreme changes expose how a large number of people easily change their minds in relation to their own interests. Most of them lack critical thinking and are susceptible to being manipulated by both political parties and the media, though the end is the same: none of them are able to stand by either their convictions or their words.

The truth is that Wikileaks has published several countries’ governmental secrets for a decade. During all this time, it has never changed its editorial staff (most of the editors have been working at the organization for years), and it operates in the same exact way.

Wikileaks has allowed people from all over the world to know about governmental corruption, and that the CIA has conducted surveillance programs to spy on everyone all the worldwide. Thanks to that, people now have the opportunity to act in order to protect their privacy against these governmental threats. 

Wikileaks is not the real problem in our society; governments and politicians who manipulate their citizens on a regular basis are. In addition, the American political system is completely obsolete and should change to make it harder for politicians to adopt megalomaniac behaviors. The system should allow organizations such as Wikileaks to freely operate because it just exposes the truth about governmental corruption. Those who are not corrupt do not have to fear anything from Wikileaks.

The lack of critical thinking in a global society is troubling since it makes it harder for people to know what is real or not. Instead, it pushes them to blindly believe what their governments say to them. For that reason, we can observe sudden changes in people’s minds in short periods of time. In order to prevent this, the education system should change by teaching students how to think critically.

When people try to change the education system to develop critical thinking skills, both Republicans and Democrats will strongly oppose it to continue manipulating their citizens, which guarantees the continued  misconduct and political corruption in all layers of government.