AP’s Netherlands team produced an exclusive photo, won record-breaking video usage and dominated global coverage of far-right firebrand Geert Wilders’ unexpected electoral win, thanks to expert planning, quick thinking and deep knowledge of Dutch politics. Ahead of the Nov. 22 Dutch elections, AP’s Netherlands team identified two issues worrying voters most: migration and growing costs of living.
With pre-election polls extremely close, Netherlands chief correspondent Mike Corder, Netherlands video journalist Aleks Furtula, Netherlands photographer Peter Dejong, and Netherlands video journalist Ahmad Seir calibrated a plan to cover the top three candidates in different corners of the country. When final polls showed a fourth — anti-Islam, anti-migrant, anti-EU candidate Geert Wilders — gaining ground, the AP team rearranged at the last minute to include coverage of him too — just in case.
Corder took a photo of Wilders voting flanked by bodyguards, and Dejong took video of Wilders celebrating, among other cross-format work by the team. When the results came in showing Wilders in the lead, the photo became the lead image encapsulating the day. Corder used deep knowledge of Dutch politics to produce a quick profile of Wilders and worked with Furtula on an on-camera explainer, too. AP produced a rich collection of Dejong’s photos of Wilders (and his hair) over the decades and an exceptionally popular video profile. Furtula and Seir searched out immigrants and Muslims targeted by Wilders’ xenophobic rhetoric.
Corder’s photo illustrated stories around the world about the election and was so popular that even a major Dutch broadcaster, RTL, used it on their website to illustrate the day. Two dozen video edits and multiple lives over two days drew a stunning 4,600 hits.