Anti-Islam Leader Geert Wilders Wins Party Election in the Netherlands

“With a reduction in the influx (of asylum seekers) and immigration to the Netherlands, the Islamisation of our country will also be reduced,” says the PVV election programme. “The Netherlands is not an Islamic country: no Muslim schools, Korans and mosques…”

“With a reduction in the influx (of asylum seekers) and immigration to the Netherlands, the Islamisation of our country will also be reduced,” says the PVV election programme. “The Netherlands is not an Islamic country: no Muslim schools, Korans and mosques…”

After his surprising victory in the Dutch legislative elections last Wednesday, the far-right anti-Islam leader and defender of “Nexit” will try to build a coalition to access the position of Prime Minister.

Geert Wilders’ extravagant haircut isn’t the only trait he has in common with Donald Trump. As with the former American president, almost no one expected the surprise victory of the Party for Freedom (PVV) leader in the Netherlands’ legislative elections. The PVV topped its competitors by winning 37 seats out of the 150 in the lower house of the Dutch Parliament.

For thirteen years, the country was led by the liberal-conservative Mark Rutte. Thus, Geert campaigned on a promise to break with this legacy. Although he must still manage to form a coalition government to become prime minister, his victory is already a real shock in Dutch political life since World War II.

During his election campaign, PVV leader Geert Wilders toned down his anti-Islam rhetoric to focus on issues such as the cost of living to the point that some analysts nicknamed him “Geert Milders” (Geert the Soft). His party, the PVV, however, maintains a project opposed to Islam and immigration. 

“With a reduction in the influx (of asylum seekers) and immigration to the Netherlands, the Islamisation of our country will also be reduced,” says the PVV election programme. “The Netherlands is not an Islamic country: no Muslim schools, Korans and mosques…We want less Islam in the Netherlands, and we will achieve this through less non-Western immigration and a general asylum halt”.

It also aims to ban the “wearing of the Islamic headscarf in government buildings.”

The PVV also proposes an “asylum freeze”, “a generally more restrictive immigration policy”, and an exemption from European rules on asylum and migration. The party wants to reinstate Dutch border controls, turning back asylum seekers who try to enter the Netherlands from “safe neighbouring countries”.

Illegal immigrants currently in the country will be arrested and deported. Syrians with temporary asylum permits will have their permits revoked because “parts of Syria are now safe”. Refugees holding a residence permit will lose it “if they go on vacation to their country of origin”. EU nationals will need work permits, and the manifesto pledges to reduce the number of international students.

Regarding foreign policy, the PVV states that “our own country comes first”. For the rest, the document underlines his friendship with Israel, “the only true democracy in the Middle East”. 

In this regard, Geert Wilders’ party, therefore, suggests moving the Dutch embassy “to Jerusalem” and closing that of Ramallah, deemed the epicentre of the “corrupt Palestinian authority”. Furthermore, diplomatic relations will be severed “immediately” with countries applying Sharia law and from where Dutch MPs have received death threats.

“No one expected it, not even the winner himself,” said the Dutch daily Trouw. According to experts, Wilders’s victory is a real shock for the Dutch, who were instead expecting a victory of the NSC, led by Pieter Omtzigt, from the Christian Democratic party.

“This unexpected score is not that surprising if you think about the economic situation of the Netherlands,” says Leyla, a Muslim woman based in Amsterdam.

Indeed, according to Leyla, “the terrible campaign” of the alliance of left-wing labour and ecologists (PvdA-GL) led by former European commissioner Frans Timmermans has been a total failure. 

She also highlights the lack of proposed policies to help Dutch people face inflation and the dire cost-of-living crisis currently hitting the country. “The main reason Geert Wilders’s party obtained this high score in the Dutch election is because he placed greater emphasis on the insufficient purchasing power in the country,” she added. “People can barely afford to rent or eat their fill these past months,” Leyla explained. 

Between necessary immigration, but criticised by the far right, a housing shortage, and agriculture no longer in line with climate issues, the economic challenges for the years to come are numerous in an 18-million-people country.

“As a hijabi teacher, I am not really scared because the Constitution of this country protects us all and gives us all freedom of religion,” Leyla told The Muslim Vibe. “I don’t think he will be able to ban the Qur’an and mosques; I can still go to work with my hijab on. The day after his win, I did not notice any change of attitude; people are still nice to me and very down to earth compared to German or French people”, she said. “Maybe 2.5 million people voted for me, but we are still 16 million Dutch who oppose his ideas”, Leyla added.

After the surprise electoral victory of the far right of Geert Wilders, negotiations to form a government coalition in the Netherlands reached an impasse on Monday after the resignation of the man responsible for leading them.

European and international leaders are closely watching whether the Netherlands’ new strongman and his Freedom Party (PVV) can form a government with partners wary of his vehement views against Islam, immigration, and the European Union. 

Indeed, Gom van Strien, appointed by the far-right leader to conduct the negotiations, had to resign after being accused of having committed fraud within his former company by the Dutch media this weekend.

Nevertheless, the far-right leader appeared optimistic on Monday, stressing that he was still running for the post of Prime Minister and urging other parties not to engage in political games. 

“Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, the PVV will help govern the Netherlands, and I will be the Prime Minister of this beautiful country,” he had already written this weekend on X (formerly Twitter), assuring wanting to be “positive and reasonable.”

But Geert Wilders also warned that his election victory could not be ignored, “Some politicians still don’t understand it,” Wilders warned. While cautioning that a new election could be possible if his party failed to form a coalition, he said the PVV would be even stronger if “the democratic mandate of millions of people” was ignored. 

Following the election results, Wilders said he was in favour of a coalition with the New Social Contract (NSC, 20 seats) of pro-reformer Pieter Omtzigt, the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB, 7 seats), and the centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD, 24 seats). 

VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz has already ruled out sitting in a government led by Wilders but has indicated that she would be ready to “support a centre-right coalition”. The position of Yesilgoz, whose party lost 10 seats following the election, is, however, contested within his party.

Even if he remains at the gates of power and fails to trigger “Nexit”, Geert Wilders, with this electoral victory, will, in any case, have resoundingly strengthened the far right less than seven months away before the European elections.

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