Dutch anti-Islam leader is major winner in polls
AMSTERDAM/THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Dutch anti-Islamist leader Geert Wilders scored major gains in local authority polls Thursday, making him a serious challenger for power in a June national election, preliminary results showed.
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.
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.”
For years I have been saying that it will take just one man to turn that tide against Islam in Europe, and that man just might be Geert Wilders. Apparently many others agree. Lets put this together with that German political party that is building anti-Islam center, and we have hope for our European friends.