Rightist Firebrand Geert Wilders Wins Election in Netherlands - Conservative Nation
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Rightist Firebrand Geert Wilders Wins Election in Netherlands



Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician renowned for his controversial views and populist approach, recently achieved a significant victory in the Netherlands’ elections. This triumph positions him to potentially become the next prime minister of the Netherlands. Wilders, 60, often compared to Donald Trump for his style of politics, has typically been a figure in the opposition. However, this election marks a turning point.

An exit poll indicated a landslide win for Wilders, which seemed to surprise him. In a video posted on X, previously known as Twitter, he expressed his astonishment with a simple exclamation: “35!” This number represents the seats his Party for Freedom (PVV) is forecasted to win in the 150-seat lower house of parliament.

Wilders’ closest brush with governance occurred in 2010 when he supported Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s first coalition. However, he did not formally join the minority administration and later caused its downfall over disagreements on austerity measures. Since then, mainstream parties have largely avoided him. “The PVV wants to, from a fantastic position with 35 seats that can totally no longer be ignored by any party, cooperate with other parties,” he declared to his supporters during the election celebration.

Wilders’ outspoken criticism of Islam has made him a target for extremists, resulting in years of living under constant protection. He has faced death threats and has appeared in court as a victim and been forced to move between safe houses for nearly two decades. In 2009, the British government barred him from entering the country, citing a threat to “community harmony and therefore public security.”

For this election, Wilders moderated his tone to appeal to mainstream voters, focusing less on his usual theme of “de-Islamization” of the Netherlands and more on addressing practical issues like housing shortages, the cost-of-living crisis and healthcare access. His campaign still advocated for a referendum on the Netherlands leaving the European Union, an “asylum stop,” and the elimination of Islamic schools, Qurans and mosques. However, he pledged to respect Dutch laws and the constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion and expression.

The Dutch political landscape has seen significant shifts over the years, particularly in the right-wing spectrum. Wilders’ political roots may be found in the emergence of the Pim Fortuyn movement in the early 2000s, which established the political formula which has brought Wilders success in this recent election.

Pim Fortuyn, a flamboyant homosexual and scathing critic of Islam and immigration, created the template which has proven most successful for the Dutch hard-right. His approach combined economic liberalism with a strong critique of Islam and immigration, as well as capturing attention with his outrageous personality, setting the stage for a new kind of right-wing populism in the Netherlands.

Fortuyn was assassinated in 2002 only days before that year’s general election, and his party went on to win the second-highest number of seats (in an echo of the events of that year, Forum for Democracy leader Thierry Baudet was notably assaulted two days before the recent election). Now, over two decades later, the seed planted by Fortuyn appears to bear its fruit, as for the first time a hard-right, socially progressive nativist party appears poised to enter government as the leader of its coalition.

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