Why do sheep swing?

The results are out – the Dutch elections took place last week and the VVD (right wing, liberal) won by a small margin. Second is PvdA (socialists), third… PVV (nationalistic, anti Islam). I voted none of the above and am now wondering how the parties are going to put their coalition together. According to the votes, the Dutch want a right wing government: VVD, PVV and ? (CDA – Christian Democrats – declined).

As a Cross Cultural Psychologist, I am interested in several questions. First, according to the polls, PVV would not win seats with such a margin. So why did the Dutch defy the predictors and vote for Geert Wilders’ party?

Secondly, in Belgium for the first time in 180 years a party (N-VA) that wants to split Belgium into two (Flanders en Wallonia) has become the most popular. Although this party is not like PVV in terms of the anti-Islam policies,  one Dutch broadsheet is now wondering if it’s intellectually acceptable to vote nationalistic (NRC http://weblogs.nrc.nl/expertdiscussies/zijn-nationalistische-partijen-salonfahig-geworden/)

Some may argue that the smaller countries are fed up with people coming in, unsettling an established culture in a country that has been occupied by foreign entities in the past and thus likely to be allergic to those who impose their views that deviate from the ‘tolerant’ norm. Hence, is there a need for the basics as per Maslow’s pyramid, to be satisfied? Lock the doors,  send a strong message to the established parties that Joe and Jane Bloggs want to be heard and sort out nationalistic interests? Interesting, but the Dutch are not known for their nationalism. At the most the Dutch would don their orange and support ‘Holland’ during the football (2-0 against Denmark, since you asked).

However, while I was in the Netherlands in April, I was intrigued to view a tv documentary on the BNP that exaggerated the support for this party among Britons. The media in the Netherlands was telling the Dutch that the British would vote BNP. They didn’t, but was this media hype enough for the Dutch to think, I’ll vote PVV since everybody else is too and I am fed up with the current politically correct climate? Certainly, things aren’t so simplistic, but my point is… why this swing? Why did the Dutch and now the Belgians vote nationalistic? Why follow each other like sheep but why did the British abstain from voting for the BNP?

I’m digging around the World Value Survey data to find out. Me thinks its something to do with pragmatic pluralism…

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