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Dutch Eurosceptic on the rise


Dutch Eurosceptic on the rise


‘This time it’s different’, says the official slogan of the European Parliament for the European elections – but that is maybe nowhere more true than with the Eurosceptics.

The Dutch politician Geert Wilders has announced an alliance in the new parliament with other like-minded parties from other countries in order to “wreck the EU from within”. And in the Netherlands he is leading the polls.

Wilders spoke with Olaf Bruns of euronews.

euronews: “Now, what’s the point, Mr Wilders in running for a parliament which you’d prefer did not exist at all?”

Geert Wilders: “Well, as long as the parliament exists, well there should not only be one point of view heard, which is the sound of the europhiles in Brussels today.”

euronews: “In a nutshell, what’s your main criticism of the EU?”

Wilders: “It took the sovereignty of the Netherlands away. Commissioners are in charge now, that nobody in the Netherlands knows, and worse nobody elected them. As an example there is a lady from Sweden, a leftist, liberal commissioner, Mrs Cecilia Malmström, who is in charge of our borders now. We cannot even change the way that we want to deal with immigration. The European Union costs us a lot of money. The Dutch are – per capita – the highest contributors to the European Union.”

euronews: “Your party is set to become the biggest in the Netherlands, and other Eurosceptic countries, in the run-up to the European election. It is clear that Eurosceptic – Euro critic feelings are running high. Now let’s just imagine your party and other parties would become an outright majority – what would you do?”

Wilders: “I would get rid of the European Union, besides the internal market. I wish that the EU would have stayed how it started in the ’50s. with economical cooperation, once again, maybe together with an internal market. We want to – even if we in the Netherlands leave the EU – still have contact, have access to the internal market, we can only benefit from that. I’m for the internal market, I’m for free trade, but it should be an economical union, it should not be, what it has become, unfortunately, a political union, a kind of political super-state.”

euronews: “That assumes that the EU does exist, as something that guarantees a kind of economic stability on the continent. But if all richer member countries would follow your line of thought and leave, the internal market would be gone.”

Wilders: “I think, why shouldn’t we be able to keep working with an internal market without a political union?”

euronews: “In the more likely event of you and your allies being able to form a strong group in the new parliament – not win an outright majority – how would you proceed?”

Wilders: “I think that if we would have a good result, it will also be historical what will happen in the respective countries. Imagine, [Britain’s] UKIP gaining more than 30 percent of the popular vote, or my party 20 to 25 percent, or the party of Ms Le Pen [the Front National] in France getting 20 to 30 percent – it will not only change the European Parliament, but it will be an earthquake in the domestic politics in Europe.”

euronews: “You have been preparing for these European elections for a long time, by forging an alliance with other euro-critique parties all over Europe – and your main partner here will be Marine Le Pen from France’s Front National. But is that really a partner for you? I mean it’s a party which views diverge totally from yours on social topics like gay-marriage, but which is also still seen by many as anti-Semitic.”

Wilders: “I don’t think they are anti-Semitic. I wouldn’t have tried to work together with the party when her father, Jean Marie Le Pen, was still in charge and I think the party has changed since Marine Le Pen has taken charge. Everybody is asking me the question why there are so many differences with other parties? Look for instance at the Christian Democrats, our own Christian Democrats in Holland, but also the party of Angela Merkel, the ‘Bundeskanzler’ of Germany has worked for years with Mr Berlusconi, the man from the Bunga-Bunga-parties!”

euronews: “But are there limits, are there Eurosceptic parties in other countries you would not be prepared to work with?”

Wilders: “Off course, we will not work with parties that are proud of or at least advocate racism and anti-Semitism, for instance the Jobbik party in Hungary, or the British National Party in the UK. But I’m more ambitious than only working with Miss Le Pen, I would also want to work together in a group with Mr Farage. I really respect him, from the UKIP party, he keeps the door open to my party, but he’s very hesitant, if not negative about working with the Front National. I hope that after the elections, there will be even more room for him and other parties to form a stronger group, than is in the news today.”

euronews: “You mentioned Marine Le Pen, you also mentioned Nigel Farage, both of them had, a couple of weeks ago a bit of a showdown with Farage who accused her, not personally but her party, of still – I quote – carrying “prejudice and anti-Semitism”. You might not share his assessment, but isn’t that a perfect illustration of what many think: that the Eurosceptics will just not be able to overcome their differences and will be mainly busy fighting each other in the end?”

Wilders: “Well, I hope that’s not true. It would be a very sad thing if at an historical moment, where the Eurosceptic parties will win, that we would not be able to overcome some differences that – I will not ignore that – that do exist.”

euronews: “On the evening of the local elections in the Netherlands, in March, you came out in front of a crowd of supporters in the Hague and asked them if they wanted – “fewer or more Moroccans” in their city. And the crowd answered by shouting “fewer, fewer, fewer”. Now, you are known as a harsh critic of Islam, but you always said, it’s against the religion, it’s not against the people. Now the question here is, haven’t you crossed a red line, isn’t it now against the people?”

Wilders: “No, because I mentioned Moroccans because Moroccans are over-represented enormously in the Dutch crime statistics, more than 60 percent of Moroccan youth under the age of 23 have been arrested by the Dutch police. They are in general, when it comes to violent street crime, 20 times more frequently arrested for many crimes.”

euronews: “But if a given society has a problem with members of one particular group, is it wise for a politician to ostracise the whole group?”

Wilders: “You know, it’s wise to tell the truth, I did not invent the fact that people from Morocco are over-represented in the statistics.”

euronews: “But is that high rate of crime because these people are Moroccan – or is that also because they are unemployed?”

Wilders: “I’m not a psychologist or sociologist, I don’t care why people are criminal, I know the numbers of them are criminals and I want tough penalties.”

euronews: “But is it understandable to you that Moroccans who are not criminal have difficulties to swallow what you are saying?”

Wilders: “Moroccans who are here in the Netherlands and are not criminal have nothing to fear from me or my party. As a matter of fact I know that the majority of the Muslims even in the Netherlands are law-abiding people, but I am a politician and somebody in Holland should state the facts, and the facts are that Moroccans are over-represented enormously. And almost half of the Dutch population agrees with me, whether you like it or not.”

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