Netherlands' Geert Wilders cuts up EU flag
Scissors in hand, anti-EU nationalist Geert Wilders of the Netherlands on Tuesday (20 May) vandalised the European Union flag in front of the European Parliament in Brussels.
In a publicity stunt amid the dozen or so cafes at Place Luxembourg, overlooked by the parliament’s tall glass structures, Wilders cut out a yellow star before unfolding the Dutch flag in its place.
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The nationalist, who runs the Dutch Freedom Party, is convinced he will be able to form a new group of eurosceptic MEPs following the upcoming European Parliament elections. He wants the Netherlands to leave the Union, regain its sovereignty, and shut down its borders to asylum seekers.
His other goal - to pull apart the EU from within by forming the anti-EU faction in parliament - will require at least 25 MEPs from seven EU member states.
Wilders says he will be meeting with other eurosceptic politicians next week in Brussels to work out a deal.
“It is our task to try to work together to overstep our differences, to not get into fights about our leadership, to overstep ‘our shadows’ as we say in the Netherlands,” he said.
He was short on details.
He would not say which parties he will meet, but noted he intends to get Ukip leader Nigel Farage to sign up along with Marine Le Pen from France's National Front.
Wilders has yet to meet or discuss the proposal with Farage, but said like-minded parties from the United Kingdom, France, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands have more in common than they do differences.
Farage, for his part, has vowed never to join forces with Le Pen, branding the French national's party anti-semitic.
“I know he is very sceptical about working together, maybe not so much towards my party but more to the party of Mrs Le Pen,” said Wilders.
He added: “I don’t know if it will work, I think I should try, we should try and of course at the end of day, it is up to Farage himself to decide whether he would want to or not.”
Asked if he would be able to form a group without Farage’s support, Wilders said Yes.
“I think it will be possible but hey it’s better to have even more than seven [member states] so let’s not aim at the minimum but go for the maximum,” he noted.
Recent poll results for Farage’s Ukip give contrasting results ahead of the 22 May elections.
One poll by ComRes says Ukip is ahead with 35 percent, while another by ICM says it slipped to third place behind the Conservatives.
A TNS-Nipo poll from 14 May puts Wilder's PVV third place at 11.9 percent.