Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party did well in local elections in the Netherlands yesterday. Included below are to reports from British media. The first is from Telegraph .co.uk and the second from guardian.co.uk.
Readers may recognize the name, Geert Wilders, as the gentleman currently on trial in Holland on ’group insult’ charges.
“Mr Wilders has called Islam a backward religion, wants a ban on headscarves in public life and has compared the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
“We are going to conquer the entire country we are going to be the biggest party in the country,” he said after the vote.
“The leftist elite still believes in multiculturalism, coddling criminals, a European superstate and high taxes. But the rest of the Netherlands thinks differently. That silent majority now has a voice.”
The Freedom Party currently has nine of the 150 seats in the Dutch parliament, and five of the country’s 25 European parliament seats. But some polls suggest it is now the most popular party in Holland, traditionally seen as a bastion of tolerance.
The Dutch political mainstream yesterday made clear its outrage at the election results. NRC Handelsblad, the Dutch newspaper of record, observing: “The Dutch political system, based on consensus and co-operation, is coming apart at the seams.”
Muslims in Almere, where one third of the 190,000 population is of immigrant origin, reacted with shock and anger to his party’s success, fearing his victory would fan animosity.
“It is terrible,” said computer sciences student Kadriye Kacar, 35, who was born in Holland but is of Turkish descent. “People are looking at us in a new way today as if they are thinking – ‘We won and you are leaving’.
“I don’t wear a headscarf normally but I have decided to start doing so now out of protest. Other people in my community are planning to do the same. We will protest until Wilders is gone.”
Mr Wilders popularity has grown since he was banned from entering Britain last year. He was arrested and deported after being declared a threat to public safety.
The bar has now been lifted and he is due in London on Friday to show his anti-Muslim film, Fitna, in the House of Lords, at the invitation of invitation of Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the Ukip leader and Baroness Cox, a cross bench peer.
“I do not agree with Geert Wilders that the Koran should be banned – even in Holland where Mein Kampf is banned. I don’t want it banned but discussed and specifically as to whether it may promote or justify – or has promoted or justified – violence. I am therefore promoting freedom of speech,” said Lord Pearson.
Mr Wilders is facing prosecution in Holland for “inciting hatred” with the controversial film which depicts the Koran burning and focuses on the links between Islam and terrorism.
Police and the parliamentary authorities are braced for potentially violent protests and clashes between radical Islamists associated with the banned Islam4UK group, the far-right English Defence League, the Socialist Workers Party and anti-fascist groups.”
“The Dutch far-right, anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders has won major gains in local elections in the Netherlands, with preliminary results today indicating he may dominate the political scene in the run-up to the general election in three months.
Yesterday’s poll, 10 days after the centrist coalition government collapsed, was seen as a gauge of the public mood ahead of the national elections on 9 June.
Wilders last night claimed a massive victory, predicting: “We are going to conquer the entire country … We are going to be the biggest party in the country.
“The leftist elite still believes in multiculturalism, coddling criminals, a European super-state and high taxes,” Wilders told cheering supporters at a rally in Almere. “But the rest of the Netherlands thinks differently. That silent majority now has a voice,” he said.
With almost 400 local authorities being contested, the focus was on only two areas – The Hague and Almere, in the centre of the country – because of Wilders’s campaign to establish his Freedom party in local government for the first time.
According to early results, he won in Almere and came second to the Dutch Labour party in The Hague, the only two places the Freedom party was running because of a lack of resources and candidates.
Wilders, who likens the Qur’an to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and wants Muslim immigrants deported, is bidding to win the general election in June, with the latest opinion polls predicting he might take 27 of the 150 seats in the Netherlands’ highly fragmented political scene.
That would make it tough for the 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.
Wilders is expected at the House of Lords tomorrow on an invitation from the UK Independence party for a screening of his incendiary anti-Islamic film, Fitna, after the Home Office barred him from entering Britain last year. The ban has been rescinded.
Yesterday the civic halls in The Hague and Almere were under heavy security. In both places and elsewhere scores of men and women turned up to vote wearing headscarves, in protest against Wilders’ demand for a tax on Muslim headgear and for the wearing of headscarves to be banned in all public buildings.
While local elections are usually a subdued affair focused on issues such as cycle paths and rubbish collection, yesterday’s poll was dominated by immigration and Afghanistan.
The coalition government of Christian and social democrats fell 10 days ago because the Labour party, the junior partner, refused to extend the presence of 2,000 Dutch troops in Afghanistan, who are to be withdrawn from August.
It was the first Nato government to fall because of the war and the collapse looks likely to end the career of Jan Peter Balkenende, the Christian Democrat prime minister who has been in office for eight years. The Afghan pullout is popular and Labour has risen in the polls as a result.
Turnout in The Hague and Almere was several points up on four years ago, suggesting that the Freedom party would do well. Almere is a new town with a population of nearly 200,000 and hardly any immigrants.
In European elections last year the Freedom party came second, trouncing Labour in its heartland cities of the western and northern coasts.
Polls predict Wilders could triple his vote at the general election.”