The opportunity Geert Wilders has waited for

By John Tyler
Radio Netherlands Worldwide
via BBC News
4 March 2010

A party that calls Islam a backward religion, wants a ban on headscarves in public life and has compared the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf has made major gains in local elections in the Netherlands.

Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) has become the biggest party in the medium-sized city of Almere, and the second biggest in the political capital of the Netherlands, The Hague.

Mr Wilders was visibly buoyed by the results, but was also combative in his reaction, and called the results the first step in the upcoming campaign for parliamentary elections.

“The national campaign begins today. Today, in Almere and The Hague, tomorrow in all of the Netherlands… On 9 June, we’ll conquer the Netherlands,” he said.

The question remains whether the party will be able to join local government in those two cities. Dutch politics features a plethora of parties, and compromise is necessary to form coalitions.

Geert Wilders has said his party is ready to find the middle ground, but now he will be tested. Other Dutch parties are loath to work together with the PVV because of its outspoken standpoints.

Controversy fuels popularity

These elections are seen as an important indicator as the country prepares for parliamentary elections in June. The Labour Party’s withdrawal from the Dutch cabinet on 20 February, causing the cabinet to fall, is just the opportunity Geert Wilders has been waiting for.

The article continues at BBC News.

UPDATE: Fringe Benefits by Mark Steyn, National Review Online, 3/3/2010:

Gee, prosecuting Geert Wilders for “Islamophobia” in a politically rigged show trial seems to be working out just swell for the Dutch establishment…

…Putting to one side the stupidity of the Dutch establishment in attempting to criminalize legitimate political opposition, one is struck by the media boilerplate: Wilders is the “extreme” “far-right” “fringe”, but the parties he beats are the “mainstream”? That there is a lot of what’s wrong with the European political discourse. Maybe he only seems so “extreme” and “far” because you’re the one out on the fringe.

Read Steyn’s entire article at NRO.

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