Saturday

6th Jun 2020

Dutch extremists in disarray after anti-Moroccan chant

Will extreme right parties in Europe finally succeed in forming a group in the European Parliament?

Chances were looking good until last Wednesday (19 March) when Dutch politician Geert Wilders led an anti-Moroccan chant.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

“Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in this city?” Wilders, leader of the anti-immigrant PVV party, asked supporters after local elections had finished.

“Fewer! Fewer!," the crowd chanted. “We’ll take care of that,” Wilders replied.

Like other countries in Europe, the Netherlands in recent years has become used to extreme right populism.

But it seems Wilders has gone too far this time. He came under fire, even within his own party. Several members in the parliament and national council have quit the party in protest.

Laurence Stassen, who heads the PVV in the European Parliament, became the latest to do so on Friday (21 March). She will continue as an independent MEP.

Wilders’ comments have had repercussions beyond the Netherlands too. At the weekend he was supposed to attend a party congress of the Vlaams Belang, an extreme right party in Belgium.

But following the controversy and the uprising within his own party, Wilders cancelled his appearance.

Vlaams Belang used to be popular but is now falling in the polls. The party had pinned its hopes on Wilders to reverse the trend ahead of the May EU elections.

Wilders, for his part, has not backed down from his comments. "I have said nothing wrong, I have no regrets, and will apologise for nothing and to nobody,” he said, according to Reuters.

Before last Wednesday’s events the PVV had been leading in opinion polls. Now the party appears to be in crisis.

The big question is what effect all this could have on the EU vote. The PVV could lose popularity because of the controversy. Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, according to polls, is almost certain to have fewer MEPs in the next EU parliament.

This means two important elements of what was supposed to be the extreme-right group – which needs 25 MEPs from seven member states – in the EU parliament are politically injured.

A lot is set to depend on how the far-right National Front performs in local elections in France. The preliminary results of the first round, held Sunday (23 March) show Marine Le Pen’s party made big gains.

How strong the party emerges after the second round of elections – in a week’s time – and how radical Marine Le Pen wants to be – these are two key questions for any future right-wing alliance in the European Parliament.

Autocratic Wilders preaches against 'undemocratic' EU

Geert Wilders, arguably the most famous Dutch politician in Europe, regularly takes the EU to task for being undemocratic. But his own party is not famed for its democratic structures either.

Schinas spars with MEPs over migration job title

A number of MEPs pressed Margaritis Schinas to drop the "Protecting the European Way of Life" title of his portfolio, which deals with migration. But Schinas refused, claiming it needs protecting from terrorists and populists. He failed to convince.

Poland's 'vague' nominee flops in EU hearing

Poland's nominee for agriculture commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, is likely to face a second hearing after MEPs from top political groups lambasted his "vague" performance on Tuesday.

Analysis

How MEPs will quiz the next commissioners

The EU parliament will organise public hearings to assess the future commissioners' suitability for their job and their knowledge about the portfolio they had assigned, before the new EU commission takes office on 1 November.

News in Brief

  1. Poland accused of 'blatant violation' of EU court injunction
  2. EU concerned by US approach to Kosovo and Serbia
  3. City morgues cast doubt on Putin's virus data
  4. ECB increases pandemic stimulus to €1.35 trillion
  5. New EU cloud computing platform 'moonshot'
  6. City of Berlin passes anti-discrimination law
  7. Iran hits record corona cases in second wave
  8. EU job losses tell tale of pandemic damage

Parliament outmanoeuvred in EU top-post game

The European Parliament on Tuesday lost a years-long power struggle, and gave up winning more influence on European politics via the so-called Spitzenkandidat process it had championed.

Who is the new EU parliament president, David Sassoli?

The 63-year-old centre-left Italian MEP was elected president of the European Parliament, with 345 votes. A former journalist, Sassoli has experience as a vice-president of the parliament, but is little known.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. EU warns UK to abide by Brexit political declaration
  2. Internal EU borders open by 15 June - bar V4, Portugal, Spain
  3. CAP 'failed to halt biodiversity loss', auditors find
  4. After Covid-19, deserted Venice struggles to survive
  5. Commission plans strategy to 'maximise' vaccine access
  6. How spies use women to steal EU secrets
  7. Hong Kong - when the Chinese Dream became a nightmare
  8. Right of reply: Letter from the Hungarian government

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us