Geert Wilders (born September 6, 1963) is a Dutch politician and leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV), the third-largest political party in the Netherlands. He is the parliamentary leader of his party in the House of Representatives. In the formation in 2010 of the current Rutte cabinet, a minority cabinet of VVD and CDA, he actively participated in the negotiations, resulting in a "toleration agreement" (gedoogakkoord) between the PVV and these parties.
Born in Venlo, he was raised a Roman Catholic. Wilders left the church at his coming of age. His travels to Israel as a young adult, as well as to neighbouring Arab countries, helped form his political views. He worked as a speechwriter for the conservative-liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), and later served as parliamentary assistant to party leader Frits Bolkestein from 1990 to 1998. He was elected to the Utrecht city council in 1996, and later to the House of Representatives. Citing irreconcilable differences over the party's position on the accession of Turkey to the European Union, he left the VVD in 2004 to form his own party, the Party for Freedom.
Wilders has campaigned to stop the "Islamisation of the Netherlands". He compares the Qur'an with Mein Kampf and has campaigned to have the book banned in the Netherlands. He advocates ending immigration from Muslim countries, and supports banning the construction of new mosques. He was a speaker at the Facing Jihad Conference held in Jerusalem in 2008, which discussed the dangers of jihad, and has called for a hard line against what he called the "street terror" exerted by minorities in Dutch cities. His controversial 2008 film about his views on Islam, Fitna, received international attention. He has been described as populist, labelled far right, and defended by one British newspaper opinion columnist as a mainstream politician with legitimate concerns.
In January 2009, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal ordered Wilders' prosecution for "incitement to hatred and discrimination". Wilders was banned from entering the United Kingdom between 12 February 2009 and 13 October 2009 by the then Labour government, the Home Office saying his presence would be a "threat to one of the fundamental interests of society". The ban was overturned after Wilders appealed and he visited the UK in October 2009, and again in March 2010 to show his film. Political career
In 1997, Wilders was elected for the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) to the municipal council of Utrecht, the fourth largest city of the Netherlands. He lived in Kanaleneiland, a suburb with cheap social housing and high apartment blocks, thus full of immigrants. While a city councilor, Wilders was mugged in his own neighbourhood; some have speculated that this may have catalysed his political transformation. He was not rewarded for his time on the municipal council of Utrecht, for in the following elections he would score well below the national average in the University city.[The Party for Freedom's political platform often overlaps those of the assassinated Rotterdam politician Pim Fortuyn and his Pim Fortuyn List. After his death, Fortuyn's impact remained, as more and more politicians sought to gain political mileage by directly confronting topics such as a ban on immigration that were, from a 'politically correct' point of view, considered unmentionable in the Netherlands until Fortuyn came on the scene and upended the Dutch tradition of consensus politics with an anti-immigration stance. Wilders would position himself to inherit Fortuyn's constituency. He bases his ideas on an ideological framework of small government, law and order and direct democracy. The Party for Freedom call for a €16 billion tax reduction, a far stricter policy toward recreational drug use, investing more in roads and other infrastructure, building nuclear power plants and including animal rights in the Dutch constitution. In the 2006 Dutch parliamentary election, their first parliamentary election, the Party for Freedom won 9 out of the 150 open seats.
In March 2009, in a party meeting in Venlo, Wilders said "I want to be prime minister", believing the PVV will eventually become the Netherlands’ biggest party. "At some point it's going to happen and then it will be a big honour to fulfil the post of prime minister".
Polling conducted throughout March 2009 by Maurice de Hond indicated the Party for Freedom was the most popular parliamentary party. The polls predicted that the party would take 21% of the national vote, winning 32 out of 150 seats in the Dutch parliament. If the polling results were replicated in an election, Wilders would be a major power broker. Under such circumstances, there would also be some likelihood of him becoming Prime Minister of the Netherlands. This has been partially attributed to timely prosecution attempts against him for hate speech and the travel ban imposed on him by the United Kingdom, as well as dissatisfaction with government response to the global financial crisis of 2008–2009.
On 3 March 2010, elections for the local councils were held in the municipalities of The Netherlands. The PVV only contested these local elections in the Dutch towns The Hague and Almere, because of a shortage of good candidates. The big gains that were scored indicated that the party and Wilders might dominate the political scene in the run-up to the parliamentary elections scheduled on 9 June 2010. The PVV won in Almere and came second to the Dutch Labour party in The Hague. In Almere, the PVV won 21 percent of the vote to Labour's 18 percent, preliminary results showed. In The Hague, the PVV had 8 seats—second to Labour with 10 seats.
On 8 March 2010, Wilders announced that he would take a seat on the Hague city council, after it became clear he won 13,000 preference votes. Earlier he had said he would not take up a seat if he won. In the parliamentary elections on 9 June 2010, the PVV went from 9 to 24 seats (out of 150) resulting from over 15% of the vote. This made the PVV the third party in size. With a fragmented parliament, at least three parties were required for an absolute majority. A coalition of VVD and Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) was negotiated with parliamentary support by the PVV. The PVV did not become part of the government formed by VVD and CDA but actively participated in the negotiations and thus policy decisions and – as part of the outcome agreed that they would not support any motion to dismiss ministers concerning topics listed in a so-called 'support agreement' – much like the Danish model where the Danish People's Party plays a similar role. The very fact of the participation of Wilder's party in these negotiations caused fierce discussions in political circles.
Wilders generally considers himself to be a right-wing liberal, with a specific mix of positions independent of the European political spectrum and particular to iconoclastic Dutch society. He has stated that "My allies are not Le Pen or Haider... We'll never join up with the fascists and Mussolinis of Italy. I'm very afraid of being linked with the wrong rightist fascist groups", saying instead his drive is issues such as freedom of expression and Dutch iconoclasm. Wilders views British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as his greatest political role model. People's Party for Freedom and Democracy figure Frits Bolkestein also heavily influenced his beliefs.
Wilders strongly opposes the Dutch political system in general. He believes that there is a ruling elite of parliamentarians who only care about their own personal careers and disregard the will of the people. He also blames the Dutch system of multi-party coalition governments for a lack of clear and effective policies. In his view, Dutch society advocates rule by consensus and cultural relativism, while he believes that this should change so as to "not tolerate the intolerant".
On foreign relations, Wilders has largely supported Israel and has criticized countries he perceives as enemies of Israel. Furthermore, he has made some proposals in the Dutch Parliament inspired by Israeli policies. For example, he supports implementing Israel's administrative detention in the Netherlands, a practice heavily criticized by human rights groups, which he calls "common sense".
Wilders published the version of his political manifesto called Klare Wijn ("Clear Wine") in March 2006. The program proposed ten key points to be implemented:
Considerable reduction of taxes and state regulations.Replacement of the present Article 1 of the Dutch constitution, guaranteeing equality under the law, by a clause stating the cultural dominance of the Christian, Jewish and humanist traditions.Reduction of the influence of the European Union, which may no longer be expanded with new member states, especially Turkey; the European Parliament will be abolished. Dutch financial contributions to the European Union should be reduced by billions of euros.A five year moratorium on the immigration of non-Western foreigners who intend to stay in the Netherlands. Foreign residents will no longer have the right to vote in municipal elections.A five-year moratorium on the founding of new mosques and Islamic schools; a permanent ban on preaching in any language other than Dutch. Foreign imams will not be allowed to preach. Radical mosques will be closed and radical Muslims will be expelled.Restoration of educational standards, with an emphasis on the educational value of the family. Introduction of binding referenda and elected mayors, chiefs of police and prime ministers.Introduction of minimum penalties, and higher maximum penalties; introduction of administrative detention for terrorist suspects. Street terrorism will be punished by boot camps and denaturalisation and deportation of immigrant offenders.Restoration of respect and better rewards for teachers, policemen, health care workers and military personnel.Instead of complicated reorganisation, a more accessible and humane health care system, especially for elderly citizens.Views on Islam
Views on Islam
Wilders is best known for his criticism of Islam, summing up his views by saying, "I don't hate Muslims, I hate Islam". Although identifying Islamic extremists as 5–15% of Muslims, he argues that "there is no such thing as 'moderate Islam'" and that the "Koran also states that Muslims who believe in only part of the Koran are in fact apostates". He suggests that Muslims should "tear out half of the Koran if they wished to stay in the Netherlands" because it contains 'terrible things' and that Muhammad would "... in these days be hunted down as a terrorist".
On 8 August 2007, Wilders opined in an open letter to the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that the Koran, which he called a "fascist book", should be outlawed in the Netherlands, like Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. He has stated that "The book incites hatred and killing and therefore has no place in our legal order". He has also referred to Mohammed as "the devil". In Sept 2009 Wilders proposed to put a tax on Hijab wearing by Muslim women. He suggested women could purchase a license at a cost of €1000 and that the money raised could be used in projects beneficial to women's emancipation.
He believes that all Muslim immigration to the Netherlands should be halted and all settled immigrants should be paid to leave. Referring to the increased population of Muslims in the Netherlands, he has said:
Take a walk down the street and see where this is going. You no longer feel like you are living in your own country. There is a battle going on and we have to defend ourselves. Before you know it there will be more mosques than churches!
In a speech before the Dutch Parliament, he stated:
Islam is the Trojan Horse in Europe. If we do not stop Islamification now, Eurabia and Netherabia will just be a matter of time. One century ago, there were approximately 50 Muslims in the Netherlands. Today, there are about 1 million Muslims in this country. Where will it end? We are heading for the end of European and Dutch civilisation as we know it. Where is our Prime Minister in all this?
In reply to my questions in the House he said, without batting an eyelid, that there is no question of our country being Islamified. Now, this reply constituted a historical error as soon as it was uttered. Very many Dutch citizens, Madam Speaker, experience the presence of Islam around them. And I can report that they have had enough of burkas, headscarves, the ritual slaughter of animals, so‑called honour revenge, blaring minarets, female circumcision, hymen restoration operations, abuse of homosexuals, Turkish and Arabic on the buses and trains as well as on town hall leaflets, halal meat at grocery shops and department stores, Sharia exams, the Finance Minister's Sharia mortgages, and the enormous overrepresentation of Muslims in the area of crime, including Moroccan street terrorists.
Nonetheless, Wilders has traveled widely in the Arab world and Der Spiegel has stated that Wilders will "wax poetic" over those "magnificent countries". Wilders has also said that "It's a real shame that these places are so chaotic."