Wilders at the trial that is currently being held against him in Amsterdam for inciting hatred against groups among the population. Left of him his defense attorney, Mr Abraham Moszkowicz.
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.
It is a sad day fo the Netherlands, a forebode of yet sadder days to come. Holland is a country with a reputation of tolerance which in fact it does not deserve in every and all respects. During the war of 40-45 the Nationaal Socialistische Beweging (NSB), the only party which was tolerated by the occupying nazis and which collaborated with them, had a high number of members . An amazing 22.000 Dutch men fought in the Waffen SS at the Eastern Front in Russia. And - saddest of all - the attitude of the Dutch towards the persecuted Jews was less than good. Out of a population of 140.000 no less than 107.000 Jews were deported, of which only 5000 returned. Of the 24.000 that went in hiding one third were caught. All in all 75% of the Jews in Holland perished, which is the highest percentage in all countries in Western Europe.
And one cannot avoid the impression that the successes of Wilders´ movement (his Freedom Party is not a party in the real sense of teh word, there´s no such thing as membership) in certain ways reminds us of the dark 1930ties, the years during which nobody was able yet to foretell whereto the anti-democratic developments in Germany and its tendency to exclude a certain group of the population, was going to lead. This time Wilders only won in Almere and The Hague, the two only places where he participated, since he did not have the ability to foot enough candidates elsewhere. On 9 June, though, the day of the parliamentary elections, he will not have this problem. Then the situation will be different. The projections are that it will become his moment of triumph, which might make his faction the biggest in parliament.
The idea that he might be the next prime minister of The Netherlands, however, seems to be somewhat premature. The parties on the left made it quite certain that they are under no circumstances going to take part in a government with Wilders. The Christian Democrats did as yet not completely exclude the possibility, but in the words of their leader Balkenende it is ´very unlikely´. The liberals did not say anything, but it is expected that Wilders will eat away large chunks of their electorate anyway, which will diminish their usufulness as a possible partner. In short: since Wilders, come what may come, will have to form a coalition and the likelyhood that he´ll find enough partners to do that is slim, the chances that he will become a head of government are not that great.
But what is serious enough is that Wilders won in two places and lateron might become the biggest. His men in Almere and The Hague started wit the demand of a ban on head scarfs. The man in Almere added to that a demand for the abolishment of minarets, while his collegue in The Hague prefered to get rid of mosques altogether and said that ´íf necessary we´ll change the law´ (we probably meaning ´we in parliament´, because the two of them are already members of parliament). What is not yet going to happen in The Hague, but might loom in Almere, is that subsidies on cultural activities - except football - will be canceled. Like Herman Goering, who presumably once remarked that he would draw his revolver whenever he heard the word culture, the PVV does not think music and art deserve special attention. Whoever wants to hear the see theatre or would like to listen to music, should pay the full price himself. Good thing the PVV in The Hague came only second, it means that at least the Residentie Orchestra (one of my favourite orchestra´s) may be able to prolong its life with another four years.
In Almere the PVV also wishes to install a special force of ´city commando´s´ in order to combat crime. Fokke & Sukke, (a popular cartoon in the newspaper NRC) illustrated this with the above drawing. Commando Fokke to commando Sukke: Let´s start by beating up all those cultural fellows. Commando Sukke to commando Fokke: After that we´ll just see.
But what this all is really about is the ascent of a movement that under the disguise of Freedom of Speech calls for a ban of the Koran (which it equals to Mein Kampf') and other islamic books. It comes down to the rise to power of people who, under the disguise of correcting the ´problems caused by mass emigration´ or want to do away with the basic rights to freedom of education and of religion. It is the way to the top of a basically anti-democratic movement, because what movement can claim to be democratic and at the same time exclude a group like the one million moslims now living in Holland. It´s a frightening idea that the Dutch apparently did not learn the lessons of the Second World War II and what - ultimately - can be the consequences of racist exclusion and discrimination. The Netherlands might in three months from now be confronted with a big, big political problem. On top of the economic one we already had.
PS Among some people there is confusion about Wilders testimonals because of the fact that he is ´a friend of Israel and the Jews´. In fact he is a friend of those islam-hating circles in the US and Israel that see Israel as an outpost in the struggle of the West against Islam. Wilders has said - on the record - that he does not believe the Middle East conflict can solved with a two state solution or even has to do with a quarrel about land. For him it is only a struggle of the Islam versus the ´Jewish-Christrian´ civilization. W. is a friend of Lieberman and the most rightist circles in Israel, the settlers and those who favour a transfer of the Palestinians. I doubt whether he will have any warm feelings towards more liberal feeling Jews.(I will come back upon that, I wrote about it, but sofar only in Dutch).