On Wednesday, the Dutch will vote for their next prime minister and the results will likely be interpreted as a test of anti-immigrant sentiment ahead of the French and German elections later this year.
These elections are seen as very significant because of some of the main themes of the election campaign — immigration and integration — and because of Geert Wilders, the man whose extreme agenda contributed to making those themes central to the campaign.
Wilders is leading the anti-immigration, anti-Islam, eurosceptic Party for Freedom (PVV), and his drastic positions have already stirred the politics of other parties further right.
The man who wants to “de-Islamise” the country has been criticised recently for cancelling meetings and not being clear enough on his policies and their implementation. His party manifesto, which was released in August, at least partly shows why some critics say he should provide more details.
Here is the party’s entire manifesto:
The manifesto consists of one page with 11 pledges, each one sentence long — the longest being on the country’s “de-islamisation,” with eight sub-pledges detailing how the party will attain that goal. Underneath are the costs or savings each pledge will incur and finally, an invitation to react through an email address.
“De-islamisation” only pledge with some details
The “de-islamisation” of the country will cost over €7 billion and includes closing all mosques and banning the Koran, which Wilders compares to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf.”
Some of the other pledges include boosting military spending, cutting all subsidies for the arts and windmills, lowering income tax, and making the Netherlands independent “including from the EU.”
Wilders represents the populist wave that has swept over Europe in recent months and even though he and his party have virtually no chance of forming a government, he stands a high chance of winning the popular vote (which, in the Netherlands normally hovers around 20%).
Islam is not a religion, it’s an ideology, the ideology of a retarded culture.
His extreme agenda is driven by a desire to completely rid the Netherlands of Islam. “Islam is not a religion, it’s an ideology, the ideology of a retarded culture,” Wilders told the Guardian in 2008, “I have a problem with Islamic tradition, culture, ideology. Not with Muslim people.”
Since a Dutch filmmaker was killed by militant Islamists in 2004 and police thought he could be next, Wilders has been living in safe houses and is under 24-hour guard. At 53 years old, Wilders has spent the last 13 years of his life in protective seclusion, which has strengthened his hatred of Islam.
“I can hardly remember what it’s like to cross the road alone,” he said in February according to Reuters. “I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But at least I know why I do what I do. My mission is to make sure the Netherlands, unlike my own life, remains free.”
Although Wilders’ support has been slipping in recent weeks, he is still set to make significant gains compared to the 2012 election and Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Monday there was a real possibility that Wilders could win the popular vote.
The latest Reuters poll puts Rutte’s conservative VVD party top at 16.2%, ahead of Wilders’ PVV on 13.4%.
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