Monday

4th Mar 2024

Analysis

How Wilders' Dutch extremism goes way beyond Islamophobia

  • Geert Wilders, the far-right anti-Islam leader in the Netherlands, secured a resounding victory in Wednesday's Dutch election (Photo: Geert Wilders's Facebook)
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On Wednesday night, it emerged the Dutch electorate had massively voted for the openly Islamophobic politician Geert Wilders.

Many of his most reactionary policies, like his proposed ban on the Quran and mosques, are outright unconstitutional and will, therefore, never happen.

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  • Wilders visited Hungary's nationalist-conservative prime minister Viktor Orbán in 2020, whom he described as a 'awesome leader' (Photo: X)

But many Dutch Muslims rightfully fear what is now to come.

"It's not about whether people like me will actually be deported, or if it's legally feasible or not," Emine Uğur, a Muslim columnist with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, wrote on social media. "It's about [the fact that] a quarter of the population having no objection if it were possible."

Without losing sight of his pervasive Islamophobia, it is essential to note that Wilders' far-right extremism extends to other issues that could drastically alter the nature of Dutch politics — and end its often constructive role in advancing EU policies.

Climate policy 'heading straight to the shredder'

His Freedom Party's (PVV) manifesto, completed only weeks before the campaign, proposes cutting all climate policies. "We have been made to fear climate change for decades [but] we must stop being afraid," the party programme reads.

Although not outright denying global warming, it is apparently a natural circumstance humans have no control over. The Netherlands has the best water engineers in the world. "If the water rises, we will raise the dikes," the document asserts.

He wants to revoke the Netherlands' €28bn climate fund, which will help the country achieve much of what is necessary to reduce emissions by 55 percent (although, admittedly, fossil-fuel emissions remain far above target).

He also wants to expand oil and gas extraction in the North Sea and stop deploying wind and solar parks. If left to Wilders, the EU climate law and the 2015 UN Climate Agreement are "heading straight to the shredder."

However, Wilders will not be able to find the majority needed to scrap Dutch climate policy altogether.

But should Wilders succeed in forming a government in the upcoming weeks, the Netherlands' role in bolstering EU climate change policies would end.

No EU flags and a referendum?

Dutch involvement in EU politics could also become obstructionist, similar to that of Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orbán, whom Wilders has praised as an "impressive politician."

Wilders wants to "drastically reduce" Dutch funding for the EU, making the Netherlands a "net receiver of EU funds."

His pledge to "remove all EU flags" from Dutch government buildings is probably more feasible (albeit less impactful).

Another issue that could be affected if Wilders manages to form a government is Dutch support for the Ukrainian war effort.

Until recently, Wilders waxed lyrical about Russian president Vladimir Putin's leadership style — years after the Crimea had already been annexed.

Although he now says he hopes the Russian army will "be cut to pieces", he also wants to end all Dutch weapons supplies to Kyiv.

The arms will instead be used by the Dutch armed forces and deployed along the their land border to prevent the entry of refugees.

To further enforce and deepen Dutch isolation, he has called for a referendum for a Dutch exit from the EU, similar to the UK's 2016 Brexit vote.

Nato, Middle East, others

His approach to foreign policy and international treaties is Trump-like. "Our guiding principle is to act in the interests of the Netherlands and the Dutch. Our own country comes first," the manifesto reads.

An example of this is his call to scrap the 1951 UN Refugee Convention that outlines a refugee's legal protection and rights. In addition, the party also wants to scrap all development aid.

Despite his promises that Islam is no longer his top priority, his party programme reflects on the war in Gaza extensively.

According to the document, the PVV is a "great friend of the only true democracy in the Middle East: Israel."

Wilders' party wants to close the Dutch consulate with the "corrupt" Palestinian authorities in Ramallah, describing Jordan as "the only Palestinian state."

And diplomatic relations will be broken off "immediately" with countries with sharia law, which includes Saudi Arabia, Iran and some Gulf states.

For good measure, the PVV also wants Turkey to be kicked out of Nato. Although that is not up to the Netherlands to decide, it might affect caretaker Mark Rutte's bid to become Nato's secretary general if his liberal VVD party agrees to form a government with Wilders.

End 'political indoctrination, gender madness'

"Our democracy is not functioning. Time and again, the same group of highly-educated people gets its way," the manifesto reads.

To break the "overwhelming" influence of left-leaning parties — that only reached 47 seats at this election, less than a third of the total, a historic low — Wilders proposes to cancel all subsidies for the arts and state media companies.

He wants to stop funding of "leftwing groups" like Milieudefensie. That is a group that sued the oil giant Shell over its destructive climate policies and won in 2021, but which, according to Wilders, is unaccountable and eats up tax money.

The party also wants to "end political indoctrination, climate-activism and gender madness" in the classroom. It is unclear how the PVV aims to achieve this.

Law and order also has to be maintained outside of the classroom.

The PVV also has a zero-tolerance policy against "street trash" and is ready to "deploy the army against street terrorists where necessary."

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