‘Dutch Trump’ wins big in Netherlands general election: Far-Right firebrand Geert Wilders who was banned from Britain for being too extreme is set to sweep into power in Holland
Spread the love


The far-right firebrand politician who was banned from Britain for being too extreme is set to sweep into power in Holland. 

Geert Wilders, known as the ‘Dutch Trump‘, is projected to be the shock winner of the Dutch general election, exit polls suggested on Wednesday – paving the way for a political earthquake that will be felt far beyond the country’s borders.

His PVV (Freedom Party) won 35 seats in parliament, according to the Ipsos exit poll, comfortably winning the election, with the centre-right bloc on 23 seats and a left-wing bloc on 26. 

If confirmed in the final results, Wilders’ victory marks a sharp lurch to the right that will be viewed with trepidation in Brussels – the PVV has promised a referendum on Dutch membership of the European Union.

Wilders has built a career from his self-appointed mission to stop an ‘Islamic invasion’ of the west, but during his campaign sought to tone down his message, saying he could put some of his more strident views on Islam ‘in the freezer’.

PVV leader Geert Wilders is seen casting his vote in the Dutch General Elections on November 22, 2023 in The Hague, Netherlands. Voters go to the polls in a snap general election called two years early.

PVV leader Geert Wilders is seen casting his vote in the Dutch General Elections on November 22, 2023 in The Hague, Netherlands. Voters go to the polls in a snap general election called two years early.

If confirmed in the final results, Geert Wilders' victory marks a sharp lurch to the right that will be viewed with trepidation in Brussels - the PVV has promised a referendum on Dutch membership of the European Union (File Photo)

If confirmed in the final results, Geert Wilders’ victory marks a sharp lurch to the right that will be viewed with trepidation in Brussels – the PVV has promised a referendum on Dutch membership of the European Union (File Photo)

He stressed he would be prime minister for everyone ‘regardless of their religion, background, sex or whatever’, and insisted the ongoing cost-of-living crisis was a bigger priority. But his opponents allege his PVV manifesto tells a different story.

Wilders is known as the ‘Dutch Trump’, partly for his swept-back dyed hairstyle that resembles the former US president, but also for his rants against immigrants and Muslims.

From calling Moroccans ‘scum’ to holding competitions for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, Wilders has built a career from his self-appointed mission to stop an ‘Islamic invasion’ of the West.

With hallmark Wilders rhetoric, the PVV manifesto says: ‘Asylum-seekers feast on delightful free cruise-ship buffets while Dutch families have to cut back on groceries.’

The programme proposes a ban on Islamic school, Korans and mosques. Headscarves would be banned from government buildings. ‘The Netherlands is not an Islamic country,’ it adds.

A ‘binding referendum’ would be held on a ‘Nexit’ – the idea of the Netherlands leaving the EU. The PVV also calls for an ‘immediate halt’ to development aid.

On foreign policy, the parallels to Trump are clear. ‘Netherlands first,’ trumpets the manifesto.

The PVV would move the Dutch embassy to Jerusalem to support Israel, a ‘close friend and the one true democracy in the Middle East’.

Wilders has remained defiant despite brushes with the law and death threats that have meant he has been under constant police protection since 2004.

‘I don’t regret fighting for freedom,’ Wilders told AFP in an interview ahead of elections in 2021. ‘Of course I take a stand. I am under attack, my country is under attack.’

He was found guilty of discrimination in 2016 over comments he made against Moroccans living in the Netherlands and has previously likened the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’, saying both books should be banned.

General election in the Netherlands in a historic moment citizens vote for the next government. Dutch voters go the polls, they line up to cast their ballots in Eindhoven on November 22,

General election in the Netherlands in a historic moment citizens vote for the next government. Dutch voters go the polls, they line up to cast their ballots in Eindhoven on November 22,

General election in the Netherlands in a historic moment citizens vote for the next government. Dutch voters go the polls, they line up to cast their ballots in Eindhoven on November 2

General election in the Netherlands in a historic moment citizens vote for the next government. Dutch voters go the polls, they line up to cast their ballots in Eindhoven on November 2

Supporters of Dutch far-right politician and leader of the PVV party Geert Wilders react to the exit poll and early results in the Dutch parliamentary elections, in The Hague, Netherlands November 22, 2023

Supporters of Dutch far-right politician and leader of the PVV party Geert Wilders react to the exit poll and early results in the Dutch parliamentary elections, in The Hague, Netherlands November 22, 2023

Supporters of Dutch far-right politician and leader of the PVV party Geert Wilders react to the exit poll and early results in the Dutch parliamentary elections, in The Hague, Netherlands November 22, 2023

Supporters of Dutch far-right politician and leader of the PVV party Geert Wilders react to the exit poll and early results in the Dutch parliamentary elections, in The Hague, Netherlands November 22, 2023

Although Wilders appeared to have triumphed in the polls on Wednesday, it is not clear he will be able to garner the necessary support for a broad enough coalition to form a workable government.

All the leaders of the three other top parties have said they would not serve in a PVV-led coalition.

‘I call on the parties. Until now, we were in a campaign. Now the campaign is over and the voters have spoken. Now we will have to look for agreements with each other,’ said Wilders.

‘With a wonderful position of 35 seats, the PVV can no longer be ignored,’ he said.

Immigration was the key topic of the campaign and his hardline stance, including closing the borders and deporting illegal immigrants, seemed to have resonated with Dutch voters.

‘The Dutch hope that the people can get their country back and that we will ensure that the tsunami of asylum-seekers and immigration is reduced,’ Wilders said. 

Kate Parker, from the Economist Intelligence Unit, said it would lead to ‘constitutional stalemate’ in the EU’s fifth-largest economy.

But Wilders, as he voted, told reporters: ‘It might not be what other parties in Europe or in other countries strive for but, hey, that’s democracy.’

Dutch far-right politician and leader of the PVV party, Geert Wilders votes during the Dutch parliamentary elections, in The Hague, Netherlands November 22, 2023

Dutch far-right politician and leader of the PVV party, Geert Wilders votes during the Dutch parliamentary elections, in The Hague, Netherlands November 22, 2023

PVV leader Geert Wilders is seen casting his vote in the Dutch General Elections on November 22, 2023 in The Hague, Netherlands

PVV leader Geert Wilders is seen casting his vote in the Dutch General Elections on November 22, 2023 in The Hague, Netherlands

Dutch far-right politician and leader of the PVV party, Geert Wilders votes at a polling station during the Dutch parliamentary elections, in The Hague, Netherlands November 22, 2023

Dutch far-right politician and leader of the PVV party, Geert Wilders votes at a polling station during the Dutch parliamentary elections, in The Hague, Netherlands November 22, 2023

Wilders was forced to shelve plans for a cartoon competition of the Prophet Mohammed in 2018 after receiving death threats.

He was competing in his sixth election, having come close to pulling off a stunning upset more than once.

‘When I left my old party (the VVD)… I said one day we will become the biggest party,’ Wilders told reporters while casting his vote.

If the exit polls are confirmed, his decades-old prediction looks to have come true.

Born in 1963 in southern Venlo, close to the German border, Wilders grew up in a Catholic family with his brother and two sisters.

His mother was half-Indonesian, a fact Wilders rarely mentions.

He developed an interest in politics in the 1980s, his older brother Paul told Der Spiegel magazine.

‘He was neither clearly on the left or the right at the time, nor was he xenophobic. But he was fascinated by the political game, the struggle for power and influence,’ Paul Wilders said.

PVV leader Geert Wilders is seen casting his vote in the Dutch General Elections on November 22, 2023 in The Hague, Netherlands

PVV leader Geert Wilders is seen casting his vote in the Dutch General Elections on November 22, 2023 in The Hague, Netherlands

Geert Wilders gets into a car outside a polling station on the day he votes during the Dutch parliamentary elections, in The Hague, Netherlands November 22, 2023

Geert Wilders gets into a car outside a polling station on the day he votes during the Dutch parliamentary elections, in The Hague, Netherlands November 22, 2023

His hatred of Islam appeared to have developed slowly. He spent time in Israel on a kibbutz, witnessing first-hand tensions with the Palestinians.

He was also shocked by the assassinations of far-right leader Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and the radical anti-Islam filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004.

When he heard the news of Van Gogh’s murder: ‘I remember my legs were shaking with shock and indignation,’ he wrote in a 2012 book. ‘I can honestly say that I felt anger, not fear.’

Wilders entered politics in 1998 in the Liberal VVD party. During his early days in politics he started dying his brown hair blonde and learned his media-savvy ways, even as his views became increasingly silenced.

Over the years he vowed not to be silenced, despite being convicted of insulting Moroccan-Dutch citizens.

Indeed, that high-profile trial boosted his visibility only months after Brexit and just as Donald Trump won the US presidential race.

In 2006 he quit the VVD to found his own party and in 2017 it became the second largest in parliament, falling back to third largest in 2021.

By tapping into a seam of Dutch discontent Wilders also managed to push the political discourse in the Netherlands to the right.

But Wilders also cut an isolated figure. He was married to a Hungarian woman, but they had no children. When not posting anti-Islamic invective on his one social media account, he posted pictures of their cats on another.

His party consisted of just one person: himself. And his security meant he had little contact with the outside world.

‘Geert’s world has become very small,’ his brother told Der Spiegel. ‘It consists of the parliament, public events and his apartment. He can hardly go anywhere else.’



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *