Geert Wilders’s PVV undeniably owned the Dutch elections. The left is worried but things may not look so bad once the dust has settled. What is more concerning is that millions of people are systematically condoning the reprehensible behaviour of Wilders and company, writes independent journalist Chris Klomp.
The anxiety among left-wing voters and minorities is palpable. The overwhelming consensus is that a punishing wind is blowing across the Netherlands. We have been nurturing our very own Donald Trump and his impact will be terrible, on minorities, European cooperation, refugees, climate policy and a raft of other things.
I can’t say I agree, at least not with all of it. Of course, Wilders’ pompous affirmation that the Netherlands has come down on the side of the PVV (and what other political leader wouldn’t have said the same in his place?) but we shouldn’t forget that three quarters of the voting public did not vote for Wilders. Research presented on election night showed not only that the PVV is the biggest party but also tops the list of parties that people don’t want to see as part of a new government (30%).
In order to achieve the 76 seats to make up a government, Wilders will have to cooperate and compromise. He knows that better than anyone, surrounded as he is by parties that don’t share his views. The PVV leader has already said he will respect the boundaries of the constitution, a statement which already invalidates part of his manifesto.
It can’t be done
More importantly, many of the PVV programme’s promises are not viable. The bombastic stances Wilders adopted from the safe refuge of the opposition benches simply don’t tally with many long-standing agreements, fundamental rights, the principles of the rule of law, jurisprudence and reality.
Nexit is not going to happen (no majority), the guilder is not going to make a comeback ( idem), and neither mosques or Islamic schools will be closed (against the constitution). Neither will there be a minister for de-Islamisation (constitution and no majority), we are not leaving the European Union (no majority), the Senate will not be abolished, no troops will be stationed at the borders and the Netherlands is not going to be a safer place by implementing harsher sentences and increasing police presence (umpteen research papers ).
Compulsory psychiatric detention for some criminals (tbs) will not be abolished (no majority). Just leave nitrogen reduction to whither and die? Not an option, because the courts have decided that the government has a duty of care towards the environment.
The PVV’s hobby horse is migration and how to stop it. Send them all back and let no one in, he says in his party manifesto. That is not going to happen. In theory, the Netherlands could withdraw from the UN refugee treaty, but that still leaves customary law (which dictates genuine refugees cannot be deported) and similar agreements which are binding because of the Netherlands’ EU membership (including the universal declaration of human rights).
Don’t take my word for it. Just look what happened when the Dutch goverment tried to reduce the number of migrants entering this country. It got a sharp rap on the knuckles from judges when it wanted to put the breaks on family reunion.
Asylum seekers fought the suspension of family reunion, and in every case the judge decided it contravened Dutch immigration law (Vreemdelingenwet 2000), the law on family reunion, the European treaty of Human Rights, the European charter of fundamental rights, and the international Convention of the Rights of the Child. In the end, the Council of State had the final word and judged the break on family reunion unlawful.
And rather a large part of the movement of migrants is down to other Europeans who come here to work, perfectly legally.
Wilders’ one liners are catchy enough but reality is a tough taskmaster and there is no such thing as free beer. The leader of the PVV has been repeating his mantra that the Netherlands should be for the Dutch, and not a week ago one of his lieutenants tweeted that the party would de-Islamise the country “from street to street and from neighbourhood to neighbourhood”.
Those comments clash head on with article 1 of the Constitution.
‘All those who are in the Netherlands will be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political affiliation, race, sex, disability, sexual preference or any other ground shall not be permitted.”
Wilders knows this like no other. He was, after all, convicted for incitement to discrimination and group insult. The court noted that Wilders wrongly stated that a group (Morroccans) did not have an equal right to be in the Netherlands.
Much of the attraction of the PVV lies in its absolute statements. No nuances, no compromises, just “say what you think and do what you say”.
That will go a long way in the opposition benches but not in a coalition which brings with it responsibility and accountability. Wilders will now be forced to show his voters that not everything is possible and that big words from the sideline will not solve any problems.
Wilders is the annoying uncle who is always making disparaging comments from the back of the car and then suddenly finds himself in the driving seat.
And now we come to what I do find concerning about the PVV win.
Geert Wilders and his PVV has been on the sideline for 17 years. During that time, he has consistently scapegoated large groups of people in a particularly nasty manner. Asylum seekers, migrants, journalists, judges, scientists and colleagues were all given the Wilders treatment. A tireless bully, he framed them in the most negative ways he could think of. That puts him firmly in the Donald Trump league.
He called Sigrid Kaag a witch, journalists were scum and lackeys of power, judges were frauds, colleagues crazy and pushovers, parliament was a “fraud” as well, Islamic women were wearing “head rags” and asylum seekers were walking testosterone bombs who had to be incarcerated to prevent mass rape.
Geert Wilders is the pupil who is constantly bullying other pupils and being disruptive in class. He’s the pupil with the big mouth who belittles others, humiliates them and wants fellow-pupils who have a different faith or background to be expelled from the school which is ruled by teachers who are frauds and has a corrupt headmater. And is voted prefect all the same.
This says something about the climate in the school, and about resentment and frustration. And also about how socially minded a large part of the Netherlands is, or is not. It says something about how easily we ignore publicly-advocated racism and humiliation if they aren’t directed at us.
If our children are being bullied at school, we demand immediate action. But, just as easily, we promote the biggest bully to lead this country.
Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.
We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.Make a donation