Islamophobic politician riding populist wave

Geert Wilders tries to cash in on Berlin attack

 

Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders responded to the German Christmas market attack by tweeting a grisly, faked picture of Angela Merkel’s supposedly bloody hands. He called the chancellor “irresponsible, cowardly” and said ruling parties across Europe should be held “accountable” for any acts of terrorism on their watch.

It was typical of an Islamophobic politician who has been riding the populist Brexit/Trump wave sweeping Europe, revelling in every opportunity to shock and offend. Some see Wilders’s politics as Trumpism before Trump. And, only two weeks ago he was convicted of inciting discrimination at a rally in 2014 when he asked the crowd whether they wanted “more or less Moroccans” in the country. The comments were deemed by the court “demeaning and thereby insulting towards the Moroccan population”.

In the wake of the case Wilders, in language echoing Donald Trump, said he planned a major “clean up” if he leads the country after the March 15th general election. “People want to control their own country again,” he said. And he described the judges as “untrustworthy, unprofessional and motivated by politics”, later denying that he was planning to fire them.

Like next year’s French and German election campaigns, that in the Netherlands has effectively been under way since the fair winds from Trump’s election began to blow. Wilders’s party, the Freedom Party (PVV), would top the poll,as he did in the locals in 2010, were the election held today, the latest poll showing him winning between a fifth and quarter of the vote, and set for as many as 37 seats in the 150-seat parliament.

That would be enough to win the right to attempt to form a government, but it is unlikely that he would succeed. The other parties, not least Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and his centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, say they will not serve with him. But even from the opposition benches he may hold considerable sway if his party’s votes are again needed to keep a coalition in office. The tail wagging the dog.

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