Dutch politician Geert Wilders on his visit to Australia this year wasÂ vilified,Â hinderedÂ andÂ smeared, while his audiencesÂ were attacked. It was the kind of shameful dehumanisation and incitement to hate that forces him toÂ live under constant heavy security.
What wasn’t deployed against him here was rational argument on the points he makes on issues I believe also trouble many Australians.Â He was abused,Â not answered.
Much the same happened in Hollard to another Dutch politician – the fascinating, eloquent gay sociologist Pim Fortuyn, who was eventually murdered by a green in part for saying what Wilders says now, that importing many Muslim immigrants can be a threat to the kind of social freedoms, not least free speech and gay rights, Western nations take for granted.
Fortuyn, like Wilders, was Euro-sceptic, as he explained to director Theo van Gogh, later himself murdered by a Muslim extremist. Here the two soon-to-be-assassinated men discuss the EU:
But here’s something to shame Australia’s politicians, not a man or woman of whom dared to meet Wilders.Â The latest poll says Wilders’ PVV party is the most popular in The Netherlands:
The PVV would win the most seats in the House of Representatives if an election were held now.
That is the finding of a poll by Maurice de Hond on Peil.nl…
With 24 seats, the party of Geert Wilders would have one more than the VVD, with 23. The PvdA would have 18 seats, according to the latest poll, giving the two ruling parties a total of 41 seats. That is the lowest total since the election in September 2012, when the parties of Diederik Samsom and [Prime Minister Mark] Rutte together won 79 seats.
Europe’s bail-out of busted Cyprus, involving yet another transfer of money from the Dutch to the south, seems to have swung more votes behind the Euro-sceptic Wilders.
Fortuyn was one of greatest and bravest political debates I’ve ever seen. One of his most famous fights:
And note his warning at the beginning of this clip about who would be responsible for his murder:
It may be worth pointing out some differences between elections in The Netherlands and Australia. First, in contrast to here, in The Netherlands there are no seats represented by local members. Instead, in The Netherlands the national political parties propose a candidate list to all electoral areas in the country. This list of candidates is usually not changed radically. That means that every voter, regardless of where he/she lives, is presented with largely the same list of candidates. In case of the PVV, that means Geert Wilders is at the top of the PVV candidate list, no matter what voting booth you walk into on election day.
As a consequence 1.5 million Dutch voters voted for Geert Wilders personally. Not a local member of the PVV party; no, they ticked specifically HIS box. Geert Wilders sits in parliament, with a personal mandate the size of which does not exist in Australia.
Second, in contrast to the Australian system, voting is non-compulsory in The Netherlands. Actually 80% showed up to vote in the elections of 2012. That means the 1.5 million people made their way to voting booth to vote for Geert Wilders at their own volition. If voting had been compulsory, as it is here, probably Geert Wilders would have personally received closer to 2 million votes.
In my discussions with colleagues who think this man is some extremist wingnut, this bit of context did help to rectify that misperception.