Dutch anti-Islamic politics go mainstream

Promises to close borders and leave the EU maintain support ahead of tomorrow's general election

Dutch anti-Islamic politics go mainstream

PETER DEJONG/AP/Press Association Images

The transition of Geert Wilders and his PVV (Party for Freedom) from the fringes to the mainstream of Dutch politics is set to be cemented tomorrow when the country goes to the polls.

After dipping earlier in 2017, with election day looming his party has made solid gains and is neck and neck with the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (who are currently in power) in the final opinion polls.

Geert Wilders poses with Marie Le Pen

Wilders is taken to using phrases such as "Moroccan scum", has compared Islam to Nazism on a number of occasions, and compares the current state of the EU to the fall of the Roman Empire. His party hopes to pull off a Trump/Brexit style victory tomorrow.

He was recently forced to abandon public campaigning amid concerns that members of his own state security team posed a threat to his safety.

Comments which he made about Islam resulted in him being banned from entering the UK in 2009 - but that ruling was later overturned.

Pro-Turkey protesters clashed with Dutch police over the weekend

Last night, in a live TV debate with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, he accused the veteran politician of allowing the country to be held "hostage" by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the states' diplomatic spat continues.

The PVV leader added a call to "close the Dutch borders" and said the Turkish ambassador should be expelled.

The PM sought to undermine the far-right politician's credibility, saying:

"There's the difference between tweeting from the sofa and running a country. If you are in charge of a country you need to take sensible measures."

"I want The Netherlands to be the first country which stops this trend of the wrong sort of populism," Mr Rutte told reporters before the debate.

Mark Rutte and Enda Kenny

Despite its gains, Wilder's PVV is set to be kept out of power even if it secures the lion's share of the 150 seats in the Dutch parliament.

It has attracted supporters by offering a right-wing populist alternative - but its views have also prompted a number of its competitors to promise Dutch voters that they will not enter a coalition with the PVV.

"No one will be able to explain why if that does not happen. I think the public will rebel," Mr Wilders told Nos, the state broadcaster, commenting on the possibility of the party securing the largest vote and being kept out of power.

He added that he hoped the rebellion would be democratic - not violent.