Wilders to fight local elections in two cities

Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration party PVV will only contest next year’s local elections in two cities – the Hague and Almere – because of a shortage of good potential councillors.

Wilders told news agency ANP he wanted to avoid the situation which developed around the LPF, an anti-Islam party which took 26 seats in the general election held just days after its founder Pim Fortuyn was murdered in 2002. The party became part of the government but collapsed because of inexperience and infighting.
Wilders, who thinks the Koran should be banned and wants a halt to immigration, said the PVV planned to focus on the national and regional elections in 2011. ‘We want to be ready to rule so we need to be in the senate,’ he told ANP.
The PVV currently has nine seats in the lower house and became the country’s second largest party in June’s European elections.
European elections
Wilders had been planning to contest the March 2010 elections in more places – particularly in his home town of Venlo, where the PVV emerged as the biggest party in June’s European elections.
The PVV had also been expected to field candidates in Rotterdam, Fortuyn’s birth place. The local party Fortuyn founded, Leefbaar Rotterdam, is by far the second biggest party on the city council, with 14 seats.
According to the Volkskrant, a ‘group of lawyers’ in Almere have come forward as potential councillors. The PVV took 27% of the vote in the city at the European elections.
Political parties have criticised Wilders’decision to laregly ignore the local elections. Femke Halsema, leader of the left-wing green GroenLinks party, told the Telegraaf: ‘He takes part in the European election although he doesn’t believe in it and now he won’t take part in the cities where he says he wants to solve problems. He’s leaving voters out in the cold’.
And Peter van Heemst, who chairs Rotterdam council’s Labour party, tells the paper: ‘Once again Wilders does not dare to take part in a serious political debate.’
Alexander Pechtold, leader of the liberal democratic party D66, said Wilders’ decision was natural. ‘That is what you get when you are not a democratic party but a one-man movement,’ he told Trouw.
But political pollster Maurice de Hond describes Wilders’ decision as ‘very clever’ in electoral terms. ‘If he wants to score in parliament in 2011 he only faces risks in the year between the local and national elections. Mistakes made by the PVV in local councils could be punished in the parliamentary elections,’ he tells the Telegraaf.

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