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Dutch election results at a glance

Right-wing blonde bombshell Geert Wilders was trounced. But he wasn't the only one. 

Before the Dutch elections, all eyes were on the latest - some would say original - right-wing populist blonde bombshell, Geert Wilders of the Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV). Wilders' party's manifesto promised "de-Islamisation of the Netherlands", including ending all immigration from Muslim countries and closing down mosques. A Eurosceptic, he was also a fan of Nexit. 

The expectation that Wilders would win big was anticipated as much by the far-right as it was feared by the left. Britain's mini-Wilders, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, popped up on the eve of the Dutch election count to proclaim that "through the Dutch elections, the French elections etc, you will see a continuance of this revolution against global governance".

But in the end, Dutch voters chose a different narrative. At time of writing, the centre-right VVD party prevailed, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte looking forward to a third successive term. "The Netherlands said 'Whoa!'" he declared.

For those on the alternative left, however, the biggest nugget of election gold however may be the fact the Green-Left party sprang up to third place, with an increase of 10 seats.

Pessimists, though, may sense that below the veneer of respectability, the threat of right-wing populism has not gone away. The mainstream left was the biggest loser of the night, going from a major mainstream party to a bit-part player in a single night. 

So what happens next? Here is what you need to know:

Mainstream politicians are celebrating across Europe

The election results will allow mainstream parties to form a governing coalition, and block out the PVV. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff was extremely happy, tweeting "Netherlands, oh the Netherlands, you are a champion!" Martin Schulz, Merkel's centre-left rival, also tweeted his celebrations. 

It's a win for the alternative, not mainstream left

The Dutch Labour party, which had been the junior party in the ruling coalition, had a catastrophic night, losing 29 seats. It now has less than the Green-Left party. Although this party's surge took place in an electoral system very different from Westminster, the UK Greens are celebrating. Co-leader Jonathan Bartley tweeted that it was "really great news proving freedom, a positive and hopeful vision can win votes". 

Geert Wilders is still very much around

The PVV might not have overturned the establishment, but it still came second, with 20 seats - a gain of five. Wilders is a veteran of Dutch politics, and is unlikely to take this as a cue to shuffle off stage. Indeed, as the election results became clear, he tweeted to his 808,000 followers: "We were the third largest party of the Netherlands. Now we are the second largest party. Next time we will be number one!"

Turkey is not impressed

The run up to the Dutch elections has been overshadowed by an increasingly loud spat between Turkey and the Netherlands, over rallies in favour of Turkey's authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. According to AFP, the Turkish government's reaction to the nail-biting contest between a mainstream politician and the man who would persecute Dutch Turks is "there is no difference". 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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