Several local parties have indicated that they will consider forming a coalition with the anti-immigration PVV after this week’s elections, the Volkskrant reported on Monday.
Geert Wilders’s party is contesting seats on 30 councils, predominantly in places where it polled strongly in last year’s Parliamentary election. Currently the party is active in just two municipalities, Almere and The Hague.
Wilders has been a pariah in the Dutch parliament since uttering his ‘fewer Moroccans’ comments in the last round of local elections in 2014, which earned him a criminal conviction for inciting discrimination. Mark Rutte has ruled out any pact between his right-wing VVD party and the PVV until Wilders withdraws the remarks and the other major parties have taken a similar line.
In Rucphen, Brabant, where the PVV took 39% of the vote last year, the local branch of the VVD says it has no objection to governing with Wilders. ‘A lot of the features of their programme are in line with ours – I can certainly see common ground,’ said lead candidate René Lazeroms.
Local parties such as Top/Gemeentebelang in Terneuzen and Stadsbelang Utrecht have also said they will not rule out a deal with the PVV – though Cees Bos, chairman of Stadsbelang Utrecht, added: ‘The PVV won’t play any significant role in governing the city because the major parties will exclude the PVV.’
Left-wing parties are less inclined to contemplate a joint venture with Wilders’s party. Thijs Kroese, Labour leader in Purmerend, Noord-Holland, said: ‘There is more chance of the North Sea catching fire, but we don’t want to exclude them altogether, even if the PVV will have to change their stance on a lot of issues. It’s in the interests of the people of Purmerend that we work together where it’s feasible.’
Meanwhile in The Hague, the local party’s campaign has been hampered by reports of division and internal rows. The PVV has lost two of its seven seats on the council after members quit the party and is forecast to retain only three or four.
Several sitting councillors have been replaced on the list of candidates, while other contenders have dropped out or been sidelined. Bas Houward, who quit less than a year after applying to stand as a councillor in protest against the ‘migrants’ cabinet’, told NRC: ‘I have seen inside the PVV’s parlour and I’ve been shocked. I have seen racism, but mainly distrust. I often ask myself, what have I got myself into?’
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