The Netherlands,Geert against everyone

The leader of Dutch populists says no to Europe, foreigners and Muslims

The Pact of Steel between the French populists of Marine Le Pen and Dutch populists led by Geert Wilders, ahead of the European Parliament elections in May, fully highlighted another aspect of the crisis: the exasperation of large numbers of Europeans still carrying the burden of economic recession and unemployment, coupled by surging unemployment. Dutch populism, taking advantage of such phenomena, is increasing along with the popularity of its leader Geert Wilders. And all the blame is put on the EU, depicted as a stepmother lacking motherly feelings.Popular support. Recent polls carried out in Holland show that if elections were held today Geert Wilders, platinum blonde right-wing leader of the Dutch Freedom Party (PPV), would be the winner. His political career began in 1997 in the Popular Freedom and Democracy party, which he left in 2002, in deep contrast with the pro-Europeanist line. Wilders ran for the first time in the 2006 elections at the lead of his party, gaining 9 seats in parliament (6%), and as many as 24 seats at the 2010 elections (17%), giving external support to the centre-right minority government. After two years Wilders withdrew support to the government forcing the country to early elections, which cost him a net loss and only 15 seats in the new parliament (about 10% of votes). But figures published in recent days by the Dutch research institute Peilingwijzer would suggest a sharp recovery in the popularity of Wilders with numbers ranging between 17 and 24 per cent of popular consensus.Convinced eurosceptic. One of causes of this popularity peak, less than 100 days ahead of European elections, is said to be found in the findings of the Nexit poll, commissioned to Capital Economics, a London-based research centre, on the advantages and disadvantages that would ensue if Holland were to withdraw from the euro area. Wilders presented “Nexit” past February. At a glance, the survey shows that if the Netherlands left the euro on 1 January 2015, while maintaining a set of bilateral agreements with the EU, in 20 years GDP would grow by 10-13% more than would be the case if it stayed in the Eurozone, with significant benefits to household incomes. According to the British survey, the costs that would result from relinquishing the euro currency would be easily recovered through the newfound “flexibility” of Holland and the lack of fiscal and monetary parameters, which the bond with Brussels implies. The arguments of Wilders’ fierce anti-EU campaign are figures and money, which gave him a primary role and led him to establish a preliminary alliance with the French populists of the Front National of Marine Le Pen. Indeed, the two political parties seemed to share not only their opposition to Brussels, described as the “monster”. However, the question is whether two nationalist parties will establish alliances with other 5 parties from an equal number of nations to form a eurogroup – as provided for in the internal regulations of the European Parliament -, thereby overriding their national interests.Fervent anti-Islam. However, there are significant differences with the French leader, such as Wilder’s pro-homosexual positions and his penchant for Israel, grown during his trips to Israel throughout the years. One of the characterizing features of Wilders’ political figure is his fervent anti-Islamism, with clamorous episodes such as the launching of a campaign to eliminate all the copies of the Koran from Holland, or “Fitna”, the short documentary produced in 2007 to shed discredit on the Islamic world. Even though no one accepted to broadcast it, since them Wilders has a permanent armed escort and is considered “persona non grata” in some Arab states where he is considered dangerous, a declared target of Al Qaeda. He has repeatedly been accused of inciting racial hatred and discrimination against Muslims and against immigrants, as is the case of the online 2012 proposal in which he asked to report misconduct of Eastern European immigrants in the Netherlands. The Dutch people behind the leader. Moreover, the item for reflection is the popularity phenomenon of  this political figure, regardless of the statistical forecasts on the results of the May elections, focusing on how to build a future “for” and not “against.” In an appeal not to underestimate the flaws of populism, published by the German newspaper “Die Zeit”, Dutch scholar Ian Buruma described two major traits of contemporary European societies. He said that a segment of the population nurture a feeling of inadequacy, identifying a cultural want vis a vis globalization. Conversely, “liberal left-wing elites”, brandishing old-dated slogans on internationalism and richness of cultural diversity, lag behind. For Buruma, “if the new elites of the global economy intend to avoid the destructive storm, whose winds of hatred are blowing today, they will have to contribute to govern the forces of a market which they benefit from” by making world economy fairer, limiting growing inequality and providing protection to the weak with respect to global market forces.

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