The only ‘shocking’ thing about Geert Wilders’ win, is how the world’s media reported it…

It seems as though the entire world was somehow ‘shocked’, to discover that yet another ‘Far Right, populist politician’, has won ‘yet another election’, in ‘yet another European country’…

Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) will become the largest party in the Netherlands by a considerable distance in an astonishing election
Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) will become the largest party in the Netherlands by a considerable distance in an astonishing election

Tell you what, let’s try a little experiment. Here are a few random headlines from mainstream international newspapers, about this week’s parliamentary elections in The Netherlands. All you have to do is figure out what (if anything) they in common.

Ready? Here goes:

> Dutch election: Far-right's Wilders aims to be PM after SHOCK win – Reuters

> ‘A Brexit moment’: Dutch voters digest Geert Wilders’ SHOCK election win – The Guardian

> In a SHOCK for Europe, anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders records a massive win in Dutch elections – NBC

> Geert Wilders has sent SHOCKwaves across the Netherlands – Sky News

> 'Dutch Trump' Geert Wilders SHOCKS Netherlands with huge election win – The Daily Mail…

OK, I’ll hit the Pause button for now: because otherwise… well, it’s a little like those ‘Pringles’ ads on TV. ‘Once you pop, you can’t stop.’

Again, this is a small experiment you can all try for yourselves at home. Just Google the words ‘Geert Wilder/shock’, and see what actually pops up. (On my own feed, it’s a never-ending list of identical headlines from – among many, MANY others - The Times of India; The Australian; France24; The New York Times; Bloomberg; CNN; Euronews; The South China Morning Post; Japan Times… etc, etc, etc.)

Anyway, you get the point. It seems as though the entire world – and I really do mean, THE ENTIRE WORLD – was somehow ‘shocked’, to discover that yet another ‘Far Right, populist politician’, has won ‘yet another election’, in ‘yet another European country’… even though a string of similar Far Right electoral victories had already been registered, in several EU member states (not to mention pretty much every else in the world: including, most recently, Argentina) over the last few years, alone.

I mean… seriously, though. It is at moments such as these, that I utterly despair of the sorry state of global journalism. Not, mind you, because – as a journalist, myself – I had accurately ‘predicted’ the result of that election. (Truth be told: like everyone else, I generally rely on – or used to, anyway – the international media, for that…)

But for reasons that are so flamingly self-evident, I shouldn’t even have to point them out at all. Sorry, but… how many ‘Far right electoral victories’ does it have to take, exactly, before the world’s media finally wakes up to what’s REALLY going on, here?

OK, let me try another tack. This is a small excerpt from an article in yesterday’s The Guardian (that’s right, the same British left-wing newspaper, that had earlier expressed ‘shock’ at Wilder’s win):

“From Helsinki to Rome and Berlin to Brussels, far-right parties are climbing steadily up the polls […].

“Giorgia Meloni, whose party has neofascist roots, heads Italy’s farthest-right government since the second world war. The far right is part of the ruling coalition in Finland and […] propping up another in Sweden.

“In Austria, the FPÖ is well ahead in the polls less than a year from the next election, while in Germany, the far-right AfD has surged from 10% to more than 21 […].

“If presidential elections were held today in France, polls suggest Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Rally […] would win. Far-right Flemish nationalists are set to make big gains in the Belgian elections in June…”

By my count, I make that EIGHT (8) EU member states, in which parties that can be described as either ‘Far Right’, or ‘populist’ (or even ‘proto-fascist’) are making sweeping gains in their respective countries’ political landscapes.

So can anyone out there explain to me, how the same newspaper I just quoted above (as well as every other major world media outlet: including The Guardian’s right-wing counterpart, The Daily Mail) could possibly be even ‘modestly surprised’ – still less ‘utterly dumbfounded’ – by an election result that THEY THEMSELVES SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE ONES, TO PREDICT??

Sorry, but… as a certain British country schoolmaster might have put it, around 500 years ago: “O, ‘tis a fault too, too unpardonable!!”

No, indeed: the only truly ‘shocking’ thing about Geert Wilder’s win, in last week’s Dutch elections, was how the world’s media managed to spectacularly ‘take its eye off the ball’, for long enough that… well, Europe’s Far Right was given yet another chance, to actually ‘score the winning goal, against the run of play’… for the umpteenth time!

THAT, in a nutshell, is what happened in the Netherlands this week; and given that history has a rather depressing tendency to repeat itself, from time to time – and, oh look! There’s a whole new opportunity for that sort of thing coming right up, in the form of next year’s EP elections…

… Sorry, but this ‘fault’ is indeed ‘too, too unpardonable’, not to merit at least a tentative post-mortem (if nothing else, to figure out what went so horribly, horribly, WRONG).

Without further ado, then: bring out your autopsy-kits, folks! We have the corpse of International Journalism’s credibility to dissect, here…

Let’s start by exploring the possibilities that may account for this apparent ‘total system failure’: starting with the likeliest (i.e., that Dutch polls were predicting different – sometimes conflicting – results).

This may well be true (it’s another thing I didn’t bother checking, to be honest), but… who the hell even cares, anyway? Leaving aside that European polls were often just as ‘off-target’, before many of the above-mentioned European ‘Far right wis’… the media, of all people, should be the first to know that:

a)     polls can be highly erratic or misleading, even at the best of times (look under ‘Spring Hunting Referendum, Malta’ for further details);

b)    They also tend to be particularly unreliable, when it comes to tracking the voting intentions of people who are either ‘voting against their own political conscience’, as it were… or, even more frequently, voting for parties branded ‘unpopular’ (if not ‘downright EVIL’), by the mainstream media itself.

Once again, I could literally fill this entire newspaper with global examples of both categories: but I’ll limit myself to quoting just one article – written by, um, myself– about the equally ‘shocking’ gains of another ‘Far Right Populist party’: this time, Norman Lowell’s ‘Imperium Europa’ (which had likewise given all other minor parties/candidates – including AD’s Arnold Cassola, and former PN heavyweight Josie Muscat – a good old-fashioned ‘run for their money’, in the June 2008 EP elections):

“While not exactly unexpected, the Lowell trend was not picked up by various polls and surveys before Saturday’s vote. MaltaToday had placed his showing as an undefined portion of the “others” – a category which also included Cecil Herbert Jones and Nazzarenu Bonnici.

“As in other European countries, it seems that a substantial portion of far right sympathisers either refused to participate in polls outright, or else registered their voting intention as ‘undecided’…”

Nonetheless, those same ‘off-target’ Dutch polls may account for at least part of the answer… as evidenced by the following headline, from the Brussels-based (and hugely ‘pro-EU)’ news-portal, ‘Politico’.

Ahead of the same election, Politico had reported that: ‘Dutch on the brink of electing first female leader’ [November 21, 2023]…

… and given that it is highly unlikely that Geert Wilders himself underwent any form of ‘gender re-assignment therapy’, at any point during the campaign: I think we can all safely deduce that ‘Politico’ must have had another Dutch politician in mind, with that headline…

Under those circumstances: well, yeah, I can sort of see how the Far Right’s victory would have come as a ‘shock’ (to a newspaper which had so inexcusably ‘called it wrong’, just a few days earlier), but…

Come on. It’s a pretty lame excuse, don’t ya think?

That leaves with only one task left, in our autopsy: determining the precise ‘cause of death’. (in other words: WHY did newspapers like ‘Politico’, and all the others, make that horribly-inaccurate prediction, in the first place?

From this point on, we can only speculate: and for what it’s worth, this is my own guess.

It’s say it’s for the same reason that the European Commission likewise always ‘disregards’ (or, even worse, ‘distorts’) the result of every poll and survey, which ever run counter to its own desired outcome.

For instance, the way Commission President Ursula von der Leyen responded to a recent Eurobarometer poll, in which 61% - that’s right, folks: almost two-thirds – of European citizens declared that they were ‘dissatisfied with the direction the EU is taking, as a whole’.

Von der Leyen’s response? If I may take the liberty to paraphrase the gist, in my own words…  it sounded like:

“This poll clearly confirms that Europeans approve of the main aims of the EU; they’re just a little unhappy with how we’re actually trying to achieve those aims, that’s all’…

And that, alone, explains two things, really:

1)    Why the Far Right is finding it so very easy, to capitalise on a widespread European disgruntlement that is being actively IGNORED by the EU itself; and

2)    Why the world’s media – which unaccountably only ever reports ‘what politicians say’ (instead of ‘what people out there actually THINK) – once again failed to predict, what everyone else saw coming a full mile away.

Q. E. (Bloody-) D…