Support for Geert Wilders’ “Freedom Party” Drops Over Crisis

Still my favorite picture of Geert Wilders

If Geert Wilders’ consistent and prolonged anti-Islam/Muslim diatribes weren’t enough of a reason to quit supporting him…

If Geert Wilders anti-freedom policies and attacks on civil liberties weren’t enough of a reason to quit supporting him…

If  Geert Wilders xenophobic fearmongering about Polish and Eastern European immigrants to the Netherlands weren’t enough of a reason to quit supporting him…

There’s another reason: The defection of a senior Freedom Party (PVV) MP Hero Brinkman, an ideological counterpart who parted ways with Wilders due to his “autocratic nature” and “unqualified stance against immigration.”

At least that is what polling data seems to be showing:

Geert Wilders support drops over party crisis

The anti-immigration party would now have 21 seats in parliament, three less than the number of seats it won at the last elections, held nearly 18 months ago. MP Hero Brinkman, seen as a key ideologue, left the party earlier this week in protest at Mr Wilders’ autocratic style and unqualified anti-immigrant stance. However, if elections were held now, Mr Brinkman would lack enough support to gain an independent seat, according to the weekly survey.

The minority government of liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte depends on Mr Wilders’ Freedom Party for a majority in parliament. Now that Mr Brinkman has broken ranks with Mr Wilders, the conservative cabinet may have to rely on other parties as well, in particular on the tiny Christian fundamentalist SGP party.

The minority cabinet has already relied on Labour, the Democrats 66 and the Green Left parties for all those policies not supported by Mr Wilders, such as giving financial aid to Greece and bolstering the euro in general.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

We can’t read too much into these sorts of polls, especially when one considers the fickle nature of polling. However, it is significant, in that it exposes not only rifts and cracks in Wilders movement, but also potential fallout.

What remains to be seen is how Wilders and company will react to all this. Will they ignore this trend or just plain dismiss it? Will they become more aggressive and double down? Will they tone down their jingoistic rhetoric?

In the meantime it seems Wilders hatemongering is continuing to have repercussions:

The Polish Wilders Hates Poles

“I don’t just hate the Poles who work in the Netherlands, I hate all Poles” says Geert Wilders.

It’s not the real Wilders, it’s a satirical programme on Polish television. The Freedom Party leader himself hasn’t gone that far. However, his party does have a website where Dutch people can leave their complaints about Eastern European immigrants. It has been stirring up emotions in Poland for weeks, according to our correspondent Ekke Overbeek.

Szymon Majewski is a well-known Polish comedian with a popular show on the country’s biggest commercial station. In front of a backdrop of windmills, ‘Wilders’ begins the sketch by saying good evening in Dutch (goeie avond). The word goeie, however, means something unpleasant in Polish, so the stage is set. He then explains, in Polish, that he hates all Poles because they drink too much.

Another film, posted on YouTube, has an Asian man telling us that all foreigners, even Dutch, are welcome in Poland. Having nearly been run over by foul-mouthed Dutch people on bikes, he invites all Dutch people to come to Poland for the European football championships. “Poles are friendly and helpful. All the ugly, nasty, greedy Poles are over in the Netherlands”. He is joined by the same fake Wilders who says “Holland for the Dutch.”

Jokes about drugs, euthanasia and abortion follow. The final gag: “You may have a world famous Red Light District, but we have something better. Here you get screwed as soon as you step into a taxi at the airport.”

The Freedom Party’s complaints website has regularly made the news in Poland for over a month. The affair drags on because the Dutch government, which owes its parliamentary majority to Geert Wilders’ support, refuses to disown the website. Prime Minister Mark Rutte says it is an initiative by a political party and has nothing to do with his government. He was asked to appear before the European parliament and explain this stance but chose not to go.

The appearance of a Wilders clone on Polish TV shows that the controversy is beginning to affect the Netherlands image abroad. Until recently, most Poles thought of the Netherlands as a tolerant country, with good job prospects. The number of Polish people in the Netherlands is estimated at between 150 and 200 thousand.

(imm)

For those of you who speak Polish (there are no subtitles), here is the second clip:

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