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06 Mar 2017

Geert Wilders, a Dutch-like Donald Trump?

Is Geert Wilders going to be a new Dutch-like Donald Trump? The Netherlands, a country well known for the protection of human rights, seems to consider a far right turn in the upcoming elections in 15th March.

Nine days before the parliamentary elections, 40% of the Dutch voters have not yet decided who they prefer to lead the country for the next 4 years. Of those who have made up their mind, 16% will vote for current Prime Minister Marc Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) . Geert Wilders, the leader of Party for Freedom (PVV), is expected to get also 16% of the total votes, making him the election’s potential winner.

But why the freedom loving Dutch citizens want to vote for a person who is famous for his excellent coiffure and his pure hatred for immigrants and for Muslims? Research has shown that some Dutch voters are disgruntled and concerned about crime, the potential loss of the Dutch identity and an observed overreach of the European Union in matters of immigration and austerity. If this sounds familiar, you are right. This is exactly the agenda that drove the United Kingdom out of the EU and made “Brexit” a reality.

Wilders, who has serious chances of winning the elections in March, is the guy who is going to tell people exactly what they want to hear. He targets those voters that would like to see restricted immigration to The Netherlands and an improvement to the social care system. Austerity measures taken couple of years ago in order to face the economic crisis effects didn’t dismantle social welfare but slimmed down the healthcare and elderly services. Wilders has promised that if elected, he will be spending the budget on what is only good for the pure Dutch citizens and not on unwelcome immigrants.

The far-right leader has made a series of promises. He has said that he is going to ban the Koran and to close around 400 mosques in a country that has, officially, almost a million Muslim people. He plans to stop immigration and not just immigrants from Syria and Iraq. He has talked against immigrants that came to The Netherlands in the 70’s and 80’s with normal procedures. Some months ago, he called the Moroccan people “scum”. This attack on one of the biggest ethnic minorities in the windmill country had him convicted for racial hatred by the court.

Wilders really tries to look like a Dutch version of Donald Trump or Boris Johnson. Expressing his Eurosceptic ideas, he has said that the best option for the country is to get out of the EU so the Dutch government will have control of the policies and of the economy. Marc Rutte, the present Prime Minister and his main rival, tries to stress in his campaign the good economic performance of the economy that seems to be growing again. Unfortunately, Rutte, who represents the center-right, tried to gain voters from Wilders’ pool by writing a letter in January in which he was saying that “refusing to adapt Dutch values means that either you act normally (!) or you must leave the country”.

The Netherlands has a 17-million population of which 3.8 million people have an immigrant background. Half of those are coming from a non-Western world country. Political parties in the country have said that they won’t include Wilders to any post-elections talks for the formation of a government. With PVV coming first or second this will be a very difficult task and a serious problem for the presence of immigrants in The Netherlands.