Meet Geert Wilders, the promulgator of far right-wing and anti-Islam ideology in the Netherlands, whose party prides itself on its flagrant Islamophobic and anti-immigration policies. In one of the biggest upsets in Dutch politics since the Second World War, exit polls suggest the sixty-year-old Dutch demagogue is en route to swear himself in as the country’s new Prime Minister. Indians know him because he had supported Nupur Sharma’s derogatory comments against the Prophet Muhammad.
Besides his reckless use of language, his populist speeches, an unaffected haughty personality, inflammatory remarks on social media compounded with an incendiary ideology, and his platinum blond hair have all brought him the epithet of “Dutch Donald Trump.”
The exit poll results suggest that Wilders’ PVV party has secured the highest number of seats (37 out of 150 seats) in the Netherlands’ Lower House, and this news has perplexed Wilders himself. However, in his response, he maintained, “The Dutch voter has spoken. The voter has said, ‘We are fed up and want to return the Netherlands to the Dutch.'”
Who is Geert Wilders, and what is his ideology?
Born in 1963, Wilders has been an active proponent of Dutch politics since 1988. He was one of the founders of the ‘Party for Freedom and Democracy’ (VVD), the Netherlands’ third-largest political party. However, he later left the party due to its ‘soft stance on Islam and Immigration.’
In 2004, Wilders founded his own party named the ‘Party for Freedom’ (PVV) and instated ‘anti-Islamic policies’ at the heart of its ideology. He has been facing death threats as a consequence of his Islamophobic statements and has been placed in police protection since 2004.
In 2016, a local court got him convicted for extending derogatory comments against Moroccan immigrants. Wilders had unabashedly referred to the immigrants as “scums,” and despite the initial penalty, his charges got dropped in 2020. It is interesting to note how he never mentions that his mother was a ‘half-Indonesian’ lady, as this would expose his glaring hypocrisy before the world.
In 2022, when the then-spokesperson of the BJP, Nupur Sharma, made a controversial statement regarding the Prophet Muhammad’s marriage, Wilders extended support to her, tweeting, “Sharma was speaking nothing but the truth about Prophet Muhammad and his wife, Aisha.” When he received further death threats from Muslims, he addressed them and said, “Go to hell. You have no morals. We stand for truth. We stand for freedom.”
His manifesto is even more controversial than his personality. It reads:
- Wilders shall bind a referendum for ‘Nexit’ (the Netherlands’ referendum to leave the European Union);
- Wilders aims to place a complete end to asylum for refugees and restrict the influx of foreign students;
- Wilders promises an end to Dutch aid toward the “war in Ukraine”;
- Wilders has been vocal about banning the Quran (the Islamic holy book), labelling it as a ‘fascist document’ and referring to Islam as “an ideology of a ‘retarded’ culture”;
- Wilders supports shutting down Mosques and propagates that the Netherlands should pull out of its ‘international climate obligation.’
All such policies have gone a long way to establish him as the poster boy of Dutch right-wing nationalism.
How did he win?
The incumbent Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) had named Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius as the successor to the party’s helm. However, she (Dilan) gave an edge to Wilders by affirming that she would consider serving in a coalition government with the Freedom Party. Another rival, Pieter Omtzigt, failed to ascertain whether he was seriously inclined to become the Prime Minister. Wilders’ competitors got eliminated one after the other, which ultimately propelled his popularity among the Dutch masses.
Geert Wilders adopted a pragmatic approach while dealing with this election as he dropped his controversial policies during his campaign and appeared more confident than other contenders during the final election debate. Experts suggest since he won 37 seats in the election (as per the exit polls), and the majority mark is at 76, he might forge an alliance in no time and emerge as the new Dutch premier.
The ‘glamorous’ West, in general, and Europe in particular, boasts its democratic ethos, liberal outlook, and inclusive ideals, has stumbled yet again into a vicious predicament where the propounders of far-right and conservative ideology are mushrooming across the continent.
This unfounded wave of right-wing nationalism across the West manifested through the rise of Italy’s Giorgia Meloni (leader of a Neo-Fascist party), France’s Marine Le Pen, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, and the Former US President Donald Trump are not setting up an ideal example to emphasize their high-handed self-conceited imagery. However, by approving Geert Wilders, the West will be left with little room to lecture the rest of the world.