One hundred years ago, on this day, March 15th, the “ides of March,” Czar Nicholas II of Russia, under pressure, abdicated, ending the dynasty that had ruled Russia since 1613. The end result was not the liberal democracy that many hoped for, but, rather, seventy years of communism, a period far worse than anything under the czars. When the czar abdicated, nobody could have foreseen the ultimate outcome. The czar himself brought attention to the fact that the day was the “ides of March,” the day Julius Caesar was assassinated, changing the course of Roman history, ending the Roman Republic, replacing it with the Roman Empire. The term became popular through Shakespeare’s famous play, “Julius Cesar.”
Today, March 15th, The Netherlands is voting for a new government. It’s the first time ever that Holland has received this much media attention. Once again, an uncertain future awaits the country and the European Union; that is, if Geert Wilder’s ‘Party for Freedom’ makes significant gains and goes on to form a government. Mr. Wilders has been labeled Holland’s Donald Trump. He’s a populist, who wants to restore his country to what it was, ending the multiculturalism that has fundamentally changed the country. In addition, he wants to leave the EU. He also wants to ban the Koran and Islamic schools and has called for the closure of all mosques; and end the wearing of burqas and hijabs, requiring people to wear western style clothing.
The election result is likely to have a profound effect on France and Germany who hold elections later this year. If a populist government comes to power in the Netherlands, then, maybe populism will see gains in the two biggest European countries, France and Germany. This could make 2017 as significant a year as 1989 and 1848 in European history. Change is in the air. But, as with Russia a century ago, the future of change is unpredictable. Sweeping populism may sweep away the European Union, but what will replace it? Will liberal social democracy be replaced by more nationalistic forms of government? Could a swing to the right in the Netherlands lead to similar swings elsewhere on the continent? The European Union, which turns 60 in ten days, may have to go back to the drawing board.
It’s not just the election that is making news in Holland. For over four centuries the Dutch, once a great maritime power, have had a peace treaty with Turkey. But now, the two NATO members are going through a verbal conflict that could easily get out of hand. The basic problem is immigration. Millions of Turks live in Holland, Germany and other EU countries. The Turkish president wants to send members of his government to speak to these Turkish citizens, so that they will vote for Mr, Erdogan in a referendum that will grant the president more powers. Naturally, Holland does not want the Turkish election to be conducted in Holland. Allowing Ankara to do so would expose the lie that Muslims are assimilated and are, in fact, Dutch. They are not, identifying primarily with their own religion and culture, not with that of the host country.
A Turkish government minister was not allowed to address a rally in Holland. Consequently, relations have been negatively affected.
The Netherlands isn’t the only European country that’s hitting the headlines internationally. The United Kingdom is also in the news.
It’s taken nine months for the groundwork to be laid for Britain to activate Article 50 and apply to leave the European Union. It’s been a rocky road, with members of Britain’s ruling elite doing everything possible to undermine the will of the people, expressed in June’s Brexit vote. The unelected House of Lords was the final hurdle.
As if invoking Article 50 is not difficult enough, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party picked the same time to demand another referendum.
This time, she believes the Scots will vote to leave the United Kingdom as the majority of Scots voted to remain in the European Union.
In effect, what Ms. Sturgeon wants is to replace English domination with German domination. Ignorant of history (except possibly watching “Braveheart” over and over again!), Ms. Sturgeon has no problem replacing London with Berlin.
When the UK completes its negotiations with the EU settling Brexit terms, Ms. Sturgeon’s Scotland will have to act quickly and apply to use the euro. It will also need massive amounts of aid as Scotland has needed English financial support ever since it voted to join the union with England, over three centuries ago.
Scottish loyalists will have to get used to shopping with a new currency – and won’t even be able to stay home and watch the BBC!