He has labeled Islam as a “backward religion,” referred to the prophet Mohammad as a “pedophile,” advocated for the ban of mosques, and now Geert Wilders and his party seem poised to secure a significant victory in the Dutch national election.
Wilders, known for his anti-Islam and anti-European Union stance, is currently leading in the Netherlands’ election, securing the most parliamentary seats according to preliminary results. In a victory speech at a café in The Hague on Wednesday evening, the 60-year-old politician declared, “The Dutch voter has spoken; we will ensure that the Netherlands returns to the Dutch.”
Initial election results indicate that Wilders’ Party for Freedom is on track to win 37 seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament. This puts them 12 seats ahead of their nearest competitor, the Labor-Green Alliance led by EU climate policy veteran Frans Timmerman.
Despite winning fewer than a quarter of seats in the national parliament, Wilders will have the first opportunity to explore coalition options with other parties to form a government. However, this task is expected to be challenging, as most parties have expressed reluctance to govern with Wilders due to his extremist views.
Wilders, known for his anti-European Union stance and inflammatory views on Islam, has faced death threats, leading him to live under police protection for several years. His comments have triggered protests in countries with significant Muslim populations, and a Fatwa was issued against him in Pakistan.
While some potential center-right partners have not categorically ruled out joining forces with Wilders’ party for the next Dutch government, there remains skepticism due to his controversial views. Dilan Yeşilgöz, the new leader of the center-right VVD party, indicated a willingness to enter coalition talks with Wilders, prompting him to temper some of his anti-immigrant rhetoric late in the campaign in hopes of securing a role in the next government.
“I understand very well that parties do not want to be in a government with a party that wants unconstitutional measures,” Wilders stated Wednesday night as election results were being revealed. He added, “We are not going to talk about mosques, Qurans, and Islamic schools.” This statement suggests a willingness to downplay controversial topics in order to engage in potential coalition negotiations.
Wilders’ victory is the latest indication of the resurgence of anti-immigrant populist parties in Europe, fueled by concerns over high inflation and increased migration from the Middle East and Africa.
This trend has been observed in various countries, including Slovakia and Italy, where parties with anti-immigrant platforms have gained political ground. In Germany, the far-right Alternativ für Deutschland Party is currently polling ahead of the coalition government’s three parties, causing concern among political observers.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a populist leader, congratulated Wilders in a post on X, stating, “The winds of change are here!” Despite the victory, Wilders may face challenges in forming a coalition government.
Several major centrist parties have enough seats to potentially unite for a coalition, but negotiations could be prolonged, as seen in the past. The formation of a government might take months, given the complexities and diverse political landscape.