Yves Herman POOL via AP

As the Left Freaks Out, Geert Wilders Vows He ‘Will Be Prime Minister’

The left in Europe and the U.S. is talking itself into a heart attack over the victory of Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands.

The Daily Beast headlined its end-of-the-world piece, “Dutch Far-Right Takeover Is a Terrifying Shock for Europe.”

CNN couldn’t resist comparing the Netherlands to the U.S.: “A ‘Trump moment’ in the Netherlands shows that Europe still has a populist problem.”

The “problem” and the “shock” is that the left realized that they have electoral competition. And instead of debating, they want to terrify voters into thinking that Geert Wilders is the second coming of you know who (and his initials are “AH”).

Wilders is not a “far” anything. The election in the Netherlands showed that Wilders is smack dab in the middle of the mainstream in Holland. It’s inaccurate to refer to him as an “extremist” when so many voters found him and his party acceptable.

This time, the warnings about Hitler and fascism didn’t work. The Dutch people saw the writing on the wall with a record number of asylum seekers knocking at the door and decided to elect a party that promised to get control of the crisis. It’s not likely that PVV will completely halt asylum seekers at the border. But limiting the number of newcomers who are allowed in appealed to the Dutch voters.

Wilders has a problem. Most of the other parties, excluding some conservative parties, see Wilders as a loose cannon. Indeed, Wilders has made some incendiary comments in the past about Muslims and immigrants that have gotten him in legal hot water.

Now Wilders says he wants to be prime minister. To do that, he’s going to have to convince some of the more moderate parties to accept him at his word that he will tone down the fiery rhetoric and trim his policies somewhat to accommodate the broad spectrum of the Dutch electorate.

“Today, tomorrow or the day after, the PVV will be part of government and I will be prime minister of this beautiful country,” Wilders wrote.


 Pieter Omtzigt, who leads the centrist reform NSC Party and is also seen as a likely partner in a Wilders’ government, has said cooperation will be difficult due to extreme positions Wilders has voiced that appear to violate Dutch constitutional protections on freedom of religion.

Dutch coalition talks usually take months, and positions about parties’ willingness to work with each other can shift as time goes on.

If Wilders is unable to form a government, more centrist combinations that exclude the PVV are theoretically possible, while new elections would be a last resort.

Omtzigt and Wilders have serious policy differences. Omtzigt is pro-European Union, while Wilders has pledged to hold a referendum on the Netherlands’ continued membership in the bloc. But if Wilders is serious about moderating his stance on issues like banning the Koran and not allowing the construction of any more mosques, it should be enough to attract the NSC and one or two other conservative parties to his coalition government.

Of course, doing that risks alienating some of his more conservative followers. But wielding power is balancing interests. Wilders’ followers are going to have to realize his limitations as prime minister and decide if he’s worth supporting.

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