MEP Geert Wilders is the Dutch politician who believes he can become the next Prime minister of the Netherlands in just a month's time, thanks to his anti-Islam/anti-migrants' stance and thanks to both Brexit and Donald Trump's win in the United States. What would his win mean for Britain's Brexit and for the EU?
Geert Wilders, launching his campaign for the General election on Saturday, addressed some of his supporters in Spijkenisse, near Rotterdam. He also spoke to reporters in English to say: "Not all are scum, but there is a lot of Moroccan scum in Holland who makes the streets unsafe. If you want to regain your country, if you want to make the Netherlands for the people of the Netherlands, your own home, again, then you can only vote for one party."
Who is Geert Wilders? Why does he even matter?
Wilders believes it is his destiny. In 2009, at the end of a party meeting in Venlo, near the German border, he was already saying: "At some point, it's going to happen and then it will be a big honour to fulfil the post of Prime Minister".
A few days ago, however, Rotterdam's public transport company RET delivered a resounding blow to Geert Wilders' propaganda campaign in the second largest city in the Netherlands. When they were approached about Wilders' Party for Freedom controversial "Stop Islam" banner that the far-right party wanted to see advertised on the city's trams, RET turned the offer down on the basis that they are a public transport company and politically neutral.
THE MEDIA FRENZY FOR POPULISM.
After the Brexit result at the EU referendum in Britain and the victory of Donald Trump in the United States, the media frenzy first turned to the Austrian Presidential election where an independent candidate eventually won the re-run of the election's second round, then they turned to the Italian referendum which saw Prime minister Matteo Renzi resign. However, there was no second populist wave either in Austria nor in Italy. No Austrian far-right President and no "Italexit" the Eurosceptic press had imagined. Imagine their disappointment!
Their obvious next targets to get populism right back on track was then a win in one, two or all three major elections that will take place in 2017: the General election in the Netherlands on 15 March, the Presidential election in France on 7 May and the Federal election in Germany on 24 September. Two other elections will also be of interest to the Brexit tabloids: the Local elections in Britain on 4 May and the General election in the Czech Republic on 28 October.
As the eyes of the alternative-facts/post-truth/fake-news press are now turning to the Dutch General election, it is essential to understand where the rise of Geert Wilders and his far-right party actually started, and how relevant that election will be in the coming months and years for Theresa May's Brexit negotiations with the EU27.
THE EUROPEAN FAR-RIGHT CLUB.
Surfing on Brexit, Trump and the good result of the far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in the Austrian Presidential election last December, Geert Wilders met French far-right Marine Le Pen, German far-right Petry Frauke and other European populists and nationalists -- though Nigel Farage was missing -- in Koblenz, Germany, last January, all united with one aim: "Making Europe Great Again" -- the very Europe they fight to destroy -- and one theme: "Patriotism as the policy of the future".
Their favourite topics and openly stated common points are to be anti-Islam, anti-migrants, anti-freedom of movement, anti-euro, anti-EU, anti-Eurocrats, anti-establishment and anti-experts. Their election manifestos and propaganda leaflets include such tempting and seducing wording as "a choice of civilisation", "vote for them and continue with the chaos", "enough with the elites", "enough of experts", "put our people first", "put our country first", "get our country back", "make our country sovereign again", "the patriotic choice", "the new Europe", etc.
Empty promises. Meaningless words.
After the 1919-1920's "Communist International", are we witnessing in 2016-2017 the birth of the "Populist International"?
CAN WILDERS BECOME PRIME MINISTER?
Can Wilders ever win and become Prime Minister? It is possible and it will all depend on whether the government will find new solutions and new measures to bring to the table for the voters to see and trust with regard to unemployment, the economy, and the migrant crisis.
If Wilders is to win the general election, because of the way politics work in the Netherlands with many small parties in parliament, he would still need to convince another political party, or maybe more than one, to work with him in order to build a majority through a coalition government. That would force him to moderate his stance on pretty much everything.
Last month, the Financial Times reported that Prime minister Rutte already ruled out entering into a coalition with Geert Wilders if he gets the most seats in the Dutch Parliament, telling Dutch television: "The chances that the VVD (PM's centre-right party) will rule with PVV (Wilders' far-right party) are zero. It's not going to happen."
Because, of course, Geert Wilders "only" understands, listens, and speaks on behalf of the Dutch people...
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