Fresh from a strong showing in local elections, the head of the far right party in the Netherlands has vowed to dominate the upcoming national vote.
Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) won the city of Almere and came second in the political capital The Hague in local authority polls.
He says the result is just the first step in his anti-Islamist party’s campaign for national elections in June.
“People want change,” Wilders said. “They don’t like the politicians in power. They want a safer Netherlands with a social security policy. We have the chance to create that again. We became the largest yesterday and second in the Hague and we can become the largest nationally. I can almost smell victory.”
The result follows an opinion poll showing the anti-PVV, which campaigns against Muslim immigration, would win the most seats in June.
It is a surprise in a country that once prided itself on its tolerance, but it seeems the economic downturn and rising social tensions have swung public opinion.
“I think it’s unbelievable that in our society right now there are so many people are dissatisfied with the way politics is right now,” said one female voter.
“The result in Holland shows also that in Holland there is a growing xenophobia that is not tamed by the traditional political parties and that is very sad because it means that the real debate about, for instance integration, doesn’t really take place,” was a man’s opinion.
The PVV has compared Islam to Fascism and called for a ban on headscarves in public life.
To protest against this, some voters in the Hague sported the headgear as they turned out to polling stations to cast their ballots.