The surprise desertion of two MPs from the anti-immigration, and now also overtly anti-European, PVV minutes after the presentation of the party manifesto has caused another shockwave in the increasingly rocky world of Dutch politics.
‘This must be Wilders’ worst nightmare’, the Financieele Dagblad writes.
‘The straw that broke the camel’s back was the defence paragraph in the party manifesto. It is unacceptable to MPs Marcial Hernandez and Wim Kortenoeven that the defence of the country should be left entirely up to the United States in order to cut costs nationally. But more importantly, their decision to leave has provided an insight into the party organisation’, the paper writes.
The two MPs paint a picture of a leader who is ‘isolated, out of touch and unapproachable’, the paper says. ‘Their radical step is the logical outcome of the discipline that rules the PVV parliamentary party, and which brooks no opposition. This would lead automatically to a situation of all or nothing’, the paper concludes.
The NRC can see the PVV drifting into the choppy waters of internal dissent that did for Pim Fortuyn’s LPF which collapsed in disarray in 2004. ‘The party has become a rickety boat, piloted by a leader and a hated second-in-command, Martin Bosma, who, according to other PVV MPs, have both lost much of their authority within the party’, the paper writes.
According to the NRC, ‘the step the two MPs have taken illustrates once again that Wilders’ PVV, which is to all intents and purposes a one-man party, has come up against the limits of what it can achieve. In order to suppress internal tensions Wilders, helped by Bosma, has imposed a strict regime.
‘Now that a loss of seats is a real possibility, MPs fear for their careers. In situations of uncertainty tensions will seek a way out. Wilders has very few means to prevent this from happening’, the paper concludes.
The Volkskrant in its analysis says that Wilders, although he has stated he had ‘never had as many knives in his back as at this particular moment’, has faced worse problems and will probably survive this one as well.
‘The only thing that should worry him is his fellow MPs’ wish to be heard’, the paper writes.
The party’s stormy history includes MPs with criminal records – one of the MPs in question, Hernandez, famously headbutted someone in a drunken brawl but escaped prosecution – and several court cases against the leader himself, the paper points out.
But they should have learnt from Hero Brinkman, who quit the PVV earlier this year. ‘He had been pushing for a more democratic PVV for years. He also organised his own television appearances, much to the chagrin of the parliamentary party leadership.’
Marcial Hernandez and Wim Kortenoeven have the same gripe: ‘hardly any say and a lack of tranparency’. Although the two objected to the defence paragraph in the manifesto, the Volkskrant is clear the main reason the MPs finally decided they had had enough was the fact they were ‘not being taken seriously’.
It must have hurt, hence the tears, while ‘Hernandez almost sounded desperate when he told of emails to Wilders containing important documents going unanswered’, the paper writes.
Elsevier Columnist Afshin Elian calls Wim Kortenoeven ‘a heavyweight’. His loss should have been prevented by Wilders, who, according to Elian, has become his own biggest problem. ‘Wilders is no longer capable of controlling or correcting Wilders’, he writes.
The reason for the MPs’ disenchantment – ‘I thought I had found my leader but I was wrong. Geert let me down’, an emotional Hernandez said – is clear, Elian writes: ‘Geert Wilders took the most important decision of his political career – to withdraw his support for the cabinet – completely on his own.
‘The dissidents also claim they were given only thirty minutes to look at the manifesto (..). That is humiliating for any free person, for anyone in possession of a modicum of self-esteem,’ the Elsevier columnist said.