Far-right Wilders on brink of power after Dutch poll
Will anyone form a coalition with Islamophobe Geert Wilders after his election success?
Dutch politics is in limbo today after populist anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders led his far-right Freedom Party (PVV) to third place in the country’s general election.
The PVV won 24 seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament, giving Wilders considerable leverage in any coalition government negotiations with the right-wing Liberal party (VVD), who won 31 seats, and the Labour party (PvdA), who took 30. The Christian Democrats, the party of the outgoing prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende, came a humiliating fourth.
But politicians have a mountain to climb if a stable coalition government is to be formed.
Wilders is an Islamophobe, who faces trial in October for inciting racial hatred. His short film, Fitna, features the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11 2001 with a voiceover reading verses from the Koran.
He advocates a ban on the building of mosques, the Koran and immigration from non-Western countries, as well as a tax on headscarves. Job Cohen, the Labour leader, has ruled out working with him in any coalition government on moral grounds. Although 1.5 million people voted for the PVV, many in the Netherlands are concerned about their country’s reputation if a far-right party is included in the government.
There is talk of an anti-Wilders 'purple coalition' of the Liberals, Labour, Greens and D66 (another, more left-wing liberal party). But Liberal leader Mark Rutte has not ruled out a pact with Wilders, who was a member of his party until 2004, when he left in protest at the Liberals’ support for Turkey’s accession to the European Union.
Also, it would be against convention to exclude a significant party from negotiations. That leaves the way open for an alternative, but borderline far-right government of the Liberals, PVV and the Christian Democrats, which would command 76 seats – a slender majority.
Wilders has left his fellow politicians in no doubt he is ready to govern. "We want to be part of the new government," he said. "More security, less crime, less immigration, less Islam - that is what the Netherlands has chosen... I don't think other parties can ignore us."
But recent history does not bode well. In March's local elections, the PVV came second in The Hague and won in Almere. Despite this, the PVV eventually had to give up trying to form a coalition with other parties in Almere, because it failed to secure support for issues such as 'city commandos' who would patrol the streets and keep order, and its anti-Islamic agenda. The party claimed it had been denied its rightful mandate to govern by the machinations of the political elite. ·
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