By Sam Myles
The Dutch general election is a week away and the polls are predicting that rightwing populist Geert Wilders, who has anti-Islam and anti-Eu views, will make gains within the Dutch Parliament.
Incumbent prime minister Mark Rutte still has high popularity, despite the Dutch government’s resignation in January following a child welfare scandal, which saw the government wrongly accuse families of child welfare fraud, asking them to repay the money the government had given to them. This scandal saw a dip in popularity for Mr Rutte’s party.
Currently Mr Rutte presides over a coalition government made up of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the Democrats 66 (D66) and the Christian Union (CU). In the past few months, Wilders and the Party for Freedom (PVV) have been making gains in the polls, reaching around 20% and maintaining this level throughout 2020 and into 2021.
A win or significant gains for the PVV him would be a huge blow for the European Union. He has previously stated that he would like to take down the European Union. After the 2016 EU Referendum in the UK, he took to Twitter to congratulate Britons and call for a similar referendum in the Netherlands. He was once considered such and enemy of the EU a documentary titled “Geert Wilders: Europe’s Most Dangerous Man?” was aired by the BBC.
But Wilders has said that he expects that Mr Rutte’s party will retain power in the upcoming election.
He said: “The current government is rather popular now – at least the prime minister is – but then again, in time of crisis people tend to rally around the flag.”
He has also said that coronavirus is a number one issue for voters but he sees no reason to drop his firm stance on immigration. Mr Wilders has pledged to close the country’s borders, shut down mosques and ban the Quran.
He explained: “Other issues such as immigration are still important. For my voters, it’s still number one.”
He added: “The immigration of non-western immigrants is an existential problem. I believe we should step up, to invest more in realising this policy.”