The UG and the elections: in shock or (secretly) pleased

Shocked, disappointed, or surprised. People at the UG react in different ways to the results of the Lower House elections.

BY GIULIA FABRIZI, INGRID ŞTEFAN AND ROB VAN DER WAL

‘Ik ben mij doodgeschrokken, ik had niet echt een beeld van hoe rechts

‘I’m terrified, I had no idea the Netherlands had become so right-wing’, says Krijn van Soeren (25), a master student of environmental and infrastructure planning. ‘I wonder if this informed democracy, or if people just voted with their emotions. I think they mainly wanted to show the previous government what they thought.’

Some people don’t understand why so many people specifically voted for PVV leader Geert Wilders. Student Janneke (21) is one of them: ‘I just don’t understand that people can’t see they voted for an openly racist man. I refuse to believe that after all these years, he’s changed his mind about being against Islam.’

‘You have to vote left here’

Many people at the UG are shocked by the right-wing victory, and specifically by Wilder’s victory. But some people have a different view of the elections. ‘I’m a little afraid to talk about politics if I’m being honest’, says a front desk employee. ‘I work at a university and it feels like you have to vote left or people will think you’re crazy.’

‘I voted left for years and nothing changed. I decided to give a new party a chance.’ They would have loved to see that party become the biggest, but they didn’t. They did, however, win seats. ‘I’m going to wait and see what they do about healthcare, the housing crisis, and taxes. Those are important issues to me.’

Especially international students and staff mentions the effects the election results will have for not just the Netherlands, but Europe as well. ‘The Netherlands fell into the same trap that Italy did when they elected Meloni’, says Italian students of law Erica (20). ‘Fortunately, Meloni is much less anti-EU in practice than she was during her campaign, but I am worried about Europe becoming more right-wing.’

‘Am I welcome?’

Innovation management & strategy lecturer Simon Fokkema is worried about how the Netherlands must look to other countries. ‘It must be horrible. Internationals must be reading the news and wondering: Am I welcome here?’ 

Some international students and staff have spoken up about the concerns they have about their future in the Netherlands. They’re not necessarily worried about their current studies, but more about what opportunities they will have after graduating. This was also confirmed in a survey by UKrant about the future of internationalisation at the university.

Concessions

But a government led by Wilders will take a lot of work. ‘I never could have imagined that a political party like Wilders’ would gain a majority’, says medical statistics professor Gerton Lunter. ‘But he still needs a coalition, so hopefully that will make it more difficult for him to push his own ideas through.’

For now, we’ll have to wait and see if the parties are able to form a government at all. ‘Especially now that the VVD decided not to join’, says law student Johan (23). ‘I do think it’s important that we get a functioning government as quickly as possible. That means a lot of people will have to make concessions. In that sense, I’m not too worried.’

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