European Jewish leaders breathed a sigh of relief this week after Dutch voters rejected the far-right challenge of Geert Wilders.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte saw his centrist party win Wednesday’s election by a clear majority, leaving Wilders in distant second, just in front of progressive and green parties.
Wilders, whose party still gained five parliamentary seats, had run on an anti-immigration platform, saying he wanted to “de-Islamise” the Netherlands, in language echoed across Europe’s new breed of far-right parties.
Rutte had earlier warned that a populist “domino effect” was taking place across the globe, but European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said he hoped Rutte’s win would “begin the reverse – a ‘domino effect’ of mainstream parties pushing back against extremism and populism”.
Ahead of French and German elections this year, Kantor added: “Hopefully this result will be an encouraging sign to the mainstream parties in their election campaigns against populists and extremists.”
Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who heads the Conference of European Rabbis, said it was “encouraging” and “a good day for Europe,” adding: “We will continue to pray for the future of the European Union, its ideals, liberties and values.”