Dutch populist Geert Wilders says mainstream politicians in the Netherlands will have to work with his Party for Freedom if voters strongly back his anti-immigration, anti-European Union platform in the country’s upcoming election, or face a peaceful backlash.
Wilders’ Party for Freedom is polling strongly ahead of the March 15 election for the lower house of Parliament. Mainstream parties, however, have ruled out working in a coalition government with him. That means it would be extremely difficult for Wilders to form a government, since the Dutch electoral system all but guarantees coalitions.
“If voters make the PVV really big — I’m not talking about two or three extra seats, but really big … they will have to” work with his party, Wilders said in the nationally broadcast interview aired Sunday.
Wilders’ party currently has 12 of the 150 seats in the lower house, but polls are forecasting him to substantially build on that in the election. Wilders himself says up to 2.5 million people could vote for him in this nation of 17 million and that other political parties would ignore his far-right voters at their peril.
“You can detest Geert Wilders or the PVV, but you can’t just set aside 2-2.5 million people,” he told the WNL broadcaster.
Wilders has in the past warned of a revolt if his party is sidelined despite strong electoral gains.
“People won’t just accept if they are just set aside in their millions. And, of course, I don’t mean that tanks will go through the streets,” he said.
He added: “Revolt is always democratic and non-violent, but it won’t just pass by, I tell you that. We in the Netherlands have the right to demonstrate and the right to speak up if we don’t agree with something.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Wilders stressed his election manifesto, saying he wants to close Dutch borders to immigrants from Muslim nations, shutter mosques and outlaw Islam’s holy book, the Quran. He also played down fears that his plan to pull the Netherlands out of the European Union would have a devastating effect on the Dutch economy, saying Britain’s economy is forecast to grow strongly despite that country’s vote to leave the 28-nation EU.
Wilders also branded the EU a “totalitarian organisation” and claims “we will cease to exist” if Europe does not introduce more immigration restrictions.
Dutch far-right leader Wilders was speaking to Newsnight ahead of next month’s general election, where he is hoping the global wave of populism following the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election will propel him to become the Netherlands’ next leader.
A longtime critic of Islam, Wilders wants to capitalise on fears over immigration, growing Euroscepticism and anti-establishment sentiment.
He said: “We are facing an existential problem here.
“If we allow our borders to be open, if we are allowed to ignore the problems that we are facing today, let alone later in the century with the demographic situation in Africa, we will cease to exist.
“The more that we import Islam… I’m not saying that all the people are extremist people, but the ideology and freedom are incompatible.
“Our values [and] our identity will not be taken away by the European Union but only by the Islamisation of our society.
“That does not work and I want it to be stopped.”
The Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) leader went on to attack the EU amid surging poll ratings which suggest the Netherlands are keen to get out of the crumbling Brussels bloc.
In the interview, Wilders was asked if he felt President Trump’s bid to put “America First” had taken us back to the political climate at the outbreak of the Second World War.
He responded: “We made another totalitarian organisation dominant which is called the European Union.
“I am not saying it is totalitarian to all the citizens of the European Union, but it is totalitarian towards the member states.
“People are equal – ideologies, values, are not equal. Religions are not equal.
“Cultural relativists who say Islamic culture is the same as Christianity… don’t demand [Muslims] to integrate and assimilate.”
He blasted: “This is the worst thing that has happened to us!”