Two MPs for the anti-immigration PVV effectively sabotaged the presentation of the party’s election manifesto on Tuesday by making high profile resignations over Geert Wilders’ leadership style.
As soon as the manifesto presentation was over, Marcial Hernandez and Wim Kortenoeven announced they were leaving the party with immediate effect because of the dominant role in the movement played by its founder Wilders.
‘Everything revolves around Geert Wilders and he does not take anyone else into account,’ Hernandez told a news conference. ‘[North Korean leader] Kim Jong-Un could take a lesson from his media strategy.’
Unlike Hero Brinkman, who declined to go into many details after leaving the PVV earlier this year, Hernandez and Kortenoeven launched a litany of complaints against Wilders and his leadership style.
In particular, Wilders has no idea who his ideal voters – Henk and Ingrid – actually are, Hernandez said in his statement. ‘Geert lives in total isolation and cannot be reached by his own MPs, let alone Henk and Ingrid,’ he said.
Hernandez, a former soldier, and Kortenoeven, who used to work for the Israel information centre Cidi, were both highly critical of the manifesto’s sections on defence and foreign policy, saying it was unworkable and irresponsible.
For example, the PVV is not prepared to do anything to combat failed states, which are a breeding ground for terrorism, Hernandez said. ‘We only start screaming when the terrorist is in our back yard,’ he said. ‘No, we would rather let countries such as Israel and the US do the work.’
Kortenoeven accused the party of not being serious and lacking statesmanship. ‘The tax on [Islamic] headscarves is back… that reflects badly on us as MPs,’ he said in an interview with RTL television.
The resignations came as a complete surprise to Wilders, who said he had never ‘been stabbed in the back so many times’.
The PVV is due to publish its list of candidates for the election on Friday. ‘I suspect some people are acting in anticipation of the list,’ Wilders told reporters.
The resignations and media furore completely overshadowed the presentation of the party’s manifesto for the September 12 general election. ‘This is the worst thing that can happen to a political party,’ RTL commentator Frits Wester said after the news conference.
The manifesto, entitled Hún Brussel, óns Nederland (their Brussels, our the Netherlands), is a declaration of independence, Wilders said before the dissident MPs resigned.
‘We are pragmatic and patriotic’. The EU flag which waves above the parliamentary complex is an ‘indignity’ and should be removed as soon as possible, Wilders said.
Other points in the manifesto include a commitment to keep the state pension age at 65. The party also wants to keep the current unemployment benefit system and make no changes to redundancy law.
The PVV aims to meet financial targets by reducing the size of the government, slashing spending on development aid, limiting child benefit and increasing the extra tax on banks.
The party is on target to take around 15% of the vote in the general election, slightly down on its performance in 2010.
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