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He has been referred to as the Dutch version of Donald Trump, faced numerous death threats from Islamic extremists, been found guilty of insulting Moroccans, and was once prohibited from entering Britain.
Geert Wilders has emerged as the victor in the recent Dutch election, positioning himself to potentially lead the next ruling coalition and potentially take on the role of the Netherlands’ prime minister.
A recent survey showing his overwhelming victory seemed to catch even the experienced 60-year-old politician Wilders off guard.
During his initial response, shared through a video on X (formerly known as Twitter), he extended his arms and covered his face with his hands, exclaiming “35!” This was in reference to the projected number of seats that the Party for Freedom (PVV) won in the lower house of parliament, as predicted by an exit poll.
Wilders, known for his passionate rhetoric, has been a prominent figure in Dutch politics both domestically and internationally for some time. His populist agenda and distinctive bleached hair have led to comparisons being drawn with Trump.
However, unlike Trump, he appeared to be fated to spend his lifetime in opposition to the political establishment.
Wilders’ closest brush with being in power was during his support of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s first coalition in 2010. However, Wilders did not officially join the minority government and ultimately caused its downfall after only 18 months due to a disagreement over budget cuts. Since then, mainstream parties have avoided aligning with him.
They are no longer able to.
“The PVV’s goal is to collaborate with other parties, as they currently hold 35 seats that cannot be disregarded by any party. This statement was made by the party leader to a jubilant crowd at their election party, held in a cozy bar located in a blue-collar neighborhood in The Hague.”
It is yet to be seen if he can form a strong alliance with former adversaries in the political realm.
In addition to causing a rift with traditional politicians, his aggressive stance against Islam has made him a prime target for extremists. This has resulted in him receiving constant protection for several years. He has even had to appear in court due to death threats, but remains determined to never be silenced.
On Wednesday, Wilders voted at The Hague City Hall, accompanied by large security guards who carefully searched the spacious area for any potential dangers. For almost twenty years, he has constantly shifted from one secure location to another.
In 2009, the British government denied his entrance to the country, citing concerns about disrupting “community harmony” and public safety. Wilders had received an invitation from a member of the upper house of Parliament, the House of Lords, to screen his 15-minute film “Fitna,” which condemns the Quran as a “fascist book.” The film caused uproar in the Muslim community in 2008 for connecting Quranic verses with footage of terrorist acts.
In an effort to appeal to a wider audience, Wilders has adjusted his approach by reducing his criticism of Islam and instead focusing on other pressing topics such as housing shortages, the rising cost of living, and improving access to quality healthcare.
Despite this, his campaign platform still includes plans for a vote on the Netherlands’ exit from the European Union, implementing an “asylum stop,” and banning Islamic schools, Qurans, and mosques. However, he assured on Wednesday evening that he would not violate Dutch laws or the country’s constitution, which protects freedom of religion and expression.
Wilders is on track to become the longest-serving legislator in the Dutch parliament later this year. He joined the House of Representatives in 1998, initially with the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. He served as a mentor to a young Rutte before leaving the party to establish his own Party for Freedom. On Wednesday night, he showed a more gentle side by expressing gratitude to his wife Krisztina, who was born in Hungary, for her support.
He strongly supports Israel and suggests moving the Dutch Embassy to Jerusalem while closing the Dutch diplomatic office in Ramallah, which is the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority.
Wilders is recognized for his tough stance in politics, as well as his clever one-liners. Additionally, he is known for his affection for his pets. His two feline companions, Snoetje and Pluisje, have amassed a following of almost 23,000 on X (previously known as Twitter).
The Independent is a news and media website based in the United Kingdom.
The Independent is a UK-based website that provides news and media coverage.