The Netherlands votes in just over a week. Dutch politicians have intensified their campaigns ahead of next Wednesday’s (March 15) general election. Three quarters of voters have yet to decide who to vote for.
Conservative Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) is performing very well in opinion polls.
“We are now number one in the polls, but we still have the Freedom Party just behind us, Geert Wilders, so there is still a big risk that he could come out number one, so I think that it would be very bad news. I will fight very hard for my party to get out first,” said Rutte.
Netherlands, Liss poll:— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) March 6, 2017
PVV-ENF: 14% ↓
SP-LEFT: 11% ↑
GL-GREEN: 10%… https://t.co/wFNqSwdff3
Geert Wilders, from the anti-Islam, anti-EU Party for Freedom (PVV), wants to leave the EU and quit the eurozone.
Wilders wants to close the borders to all refugees, shut down mosques and ban the Koran.
“The Koran really, for instance if you look at anti-Semitism, the Koran has more anti-Semitism in it than Mein Kampf, the book of another totalitarian violent ideology,” Wilders told Euronews. “So rather I would have no Koran at all as we in Holland at least have outlawed Mein Kampf as well.”
“I believe that the Koran and the Islam more especially might be dressed up as a religion,” added Wilders. “It has a holy book, it has a temple. It has Imams. But in reality, it is not so much a religion but an ideology.”
Wilders continued: “Young children in Holland — at the end of the day you want to integrate, want to get Dutch friends, have a normal life in the society — should not be able to go to an Islamic school and grow up and be educated with intolerance, with hate and with violence. I believe that the constitutional rights would not even have to be granted to something that is not a religion but an ideology.”
Polls indicate Wilders’ Party for Freedom will double its seats in parliament to between 29 and 35 seats.
About five percent of the Netherlands population is Muslim. The Dutch were renowned for multicultural tolerance, but immigration has taken centre stage in the campaigning.
“Personally I am not very afraid for myself, but I am afraid for others though, because the hatred he [Wilders] spreads can make people blind and make people not listen to each other and it divides people,” said Dutch Muslim Dounia Jari.
Paradoxically, many Dutch voters are in favor of populism in these times of economic wellbeing. But an austerity campaign under Rutte hit middle- and lower-income Dutch much harder than the rich.
Though the Dutch economy performs well, it stagnated at zero growth from 2008 to 2014 as the government cut spending to comply with EU budgetary rules.
“My research shows that there is a part of population who is pessimistic about their financial future,” explained pollster Maurice de Hond. “It’s about 30-35 percent of Dutch population, usually also with lower education, who are favourable for a party like party of Wilders.”
The Dutch election is the first
of three in the European Union this year. Like in the Netherlands, populist, nationalist and Euroskeptic parties in Germany and France are performing well in opinion polls.
This is completely true, everything points to Wilders having no appetite to actually govern https://t.co/4F5L2rHnbl— Pepijn Bergsen (@pbergsen) March 5, 2017