Dutch anti-Islam leader is major winner in polls
Al Reuters is inconsolable; AFP is almost crying:
No cabinet majority, PVV biggest winner and biggest loser
Geert Wilder’s party will debut in the senate with 10 seats and is now the biggest party in his home province of Limburg, but it lost the most support compared with the June general election and is now in fourth place nationwide. Â (Dutch News)
Half the country would vote for a ‘far-Right’ party â€“ whatever that means
Geert Wilders is not by any means “far-Right”, Fascist or extremist; nor are the Swiss People’s Party, nor the Danish People’s Party. Austria’s Freedom PartyÂ is far-Right, and the Front National of Jean-Marie Le Pen senior was, but even that party under his daughter can no longer be labelled as such. Like most of the other “extremists”, their policies are pro-women’s right, pro-gay, pro-Jewish and pro-classical liberalism; they’re not forming street militias, have no plans to re-arm, invade their neighbours, open camps or abolish parliamentary rule. They are far-Right only in the sense that the BBC views the term, as was illustrated by theirÂ lamentable stitch-up job of Geert Wilders two weeks ago (which compared him to Hitler and then, without irony, suggested he was some sort of Israeli pawn). Â (Ed West in the Telegraph)
In German from PI:Â Provinzwahlen: Wahlerfolg fÃ¼r Geert Wilders PVV
In the first test of public opinion since the collapse of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s coalition government last month, Wilders’s Freedom Party (PVV) led in the city of Almere and was second in The Hague.
The results came on top of an opinion poll showing that the PVV, which campaigns against Muslim immigration as its main platform, would win the most seats — 27 in the 150-member Dutch parliament — in the June 9 election.
- UPDATE 1-Dutch parties tussle over approach to far right
- UPDATE 2-Dutch election June 9, De Jager finance minister
- Netherlands: Somali Terror Suspects Threaten to Sue Wilders
That would make it tough for Balkenende’s Christian Democrats, projected to win one seat less, to forge a strong coalition without Wilders. Months of talks between parties, and the resulting policy vacuum, could threaten a fragile economic recovery and cast doubt on the scope of planned budget cuts.
The popularity of Wilders, who compares Islam to fascism and the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf,” has dented the image of the Netherlands as a country that has often portrayed itself in the past as a bastion of tolerance.
The PVV has been pitching its policies to a nation of 16 million that is turning increasingly inward as the economy struggles and social tensions rise. There are nearly 1 million Muslims in the Netherlands.
“The leftist elite still believes in multi-culturalism, coddling criminals, a European super-state and high taxes,” Wilders told cheering supporters at a rally in Almere after polling ended Wednesday.
“But the rest of the Netherlands thinks differently. That silent majority now has a voice,” he said.
Andre Krouwel, professor of political science at Vrije University in Amsterdam, said: “You can see there’s a lot of discontent in the electorate. Clearly Wilders is going to use these results as a stepping stone for national elections.”
Balkenende, now heading a caretaker government, saw his coalition collapse on February 20 after his center-right Christian Democrats failed to persuade their Labor Party partners to extend the Netherlands’ military mission in Afghanistan.
He has said the nearly 2,000 Dutch troops serving with NATO in Afghanistan were now likely to withdraw this year as planned.
The collapse was the fourth for a cabinet led by Balkenende in eight years.
In Almere, the PVV won 21 percent of the vote to Labour’s 18 percent, the preliminary results showed. In The Hague, the PVV had 8 seats — second to Labor with 10 seats. Experts put turnout in the local elections at 56 percent.
Labor, led by former Deputy Prime Minister Wouter Bos, appeared to have benefited from its stance over Afghanistan.
“The Labor Party is back,” Bos told supporters. “We were declared dead and buried, but with our struggle, humility and ideals we have come back.”