Wednesday

21st Feb 2024

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

Get the EU news that really matters

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.

Feature

Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza

Despite the high risk of dying from war, starvation or disease, Gazans are still not allowed to enter Egypt. Except those who bribe the authorities. And the EU mission EUBAM Rafah cannot be deployed due to security reasons.

'Nightmare' 2024 sees Orbán struggle ahead of EU elections

Viktor Orbán admits that 2024 "could not have started any worse" for his government. The sex-abuse scandal that led to the resignation of the president provides an opportunity for Hungary's opposition — but their fragmentation could be a major obstacle.

Latest News

  1. EU's €723bn Covid recovery fund saw growth, but doubts remain
  2. Von der Leyen rejects extremist parties, leaves door open to ECR
  3. Russian oligarchs failed to get off EU blacklist
  4. Podcast: Navalny, Ian Bremmer and "more Europe"
  5. Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza
  6. Ukraine refugees want to return home — but how?
  7. African leaders unveil continent-wide plan to buy medicines
  8. EU urban-rural divide not bridged by cohesion policy, report finds

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us