Waving the flag of nationalism, Geert Wilders promises to return the Netherlands to the Dutch, who would otherwise be kidnapped by the Brussels bureaucracy and the establishment.
The leader of the Freedom Party, who has been in parliament for nearly 20 years, has long been a thorn in the side of what he calls the political “elite”.
Wilders campaigned for the “no” vote during the Netherlands referendum, on the draft European Constitution in 2005. He creates his party, the PVV, a year later. Its ideological pillars are Euroscepticism, anti-immigration and especially anti-Islamism.
He was shocked by the assassination in 2002 of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, of whom Wilders was the direct political heir, and two years later by the murder of Theo van Gogh a director whose film attacked Islam.
Over the years, WIlders’s tone hardens. He promises not to be silenced, despite being convicted for inciting discrimination after promising “fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands.
In 2012 Geert Wilders, who accuses Islam of discriminating against women, had even dared to publicly criticize Queen Beatrix of Holland because she had worn a veil during a visit to a mosque in Oman.
Adored and detested, he divides a country that boasts a long tradition of multicultural tolerance. Born in 1963 in the south-east of the Netherlands, he grew up in a Catholic family, alongside a brother and two sisters.
For some, Geert Wilders is an isolated figure. Married to a Hungarian. They have no children. His party is officially an association with only one member: himself. And his security limits his contacts with the outside world.
“His world has become very small,” assures his brother Paul. “Parliament, public events and his apartment. He can not go anywhere else.”
Full interview: James Franey in conversation with Geery Wilders