Who is Geert Wilders? The story of the Dutch populist who hates Islam

Who is Geert Wilders? The story of the Dutch populist who hates Islam

According to the polls, Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party look set to win the most seats in the upcoming Dutch Parliamentary Elections. Often compared to US President Donald Trump due his unique bleached-blonde hairstyle and uncompromising ‘Netherlands First’ styled rhetoric, the populist leader certainly has much in common with Trump. However, the Dutch politician, known for his anti-Islamic and anti-EU views, also has many differences with the American president. He is the very definition of a political insider. As elections are now just three weeks away, many are asking, just who is Geert Wilders, and how does he plan to transform the Netherlands? The youngest of four, Wilders grew up in a conservative, Roman Catholic family, although Wilders himself is not religious. Growing up in the town of Venlo, near the German border, Wilder still has a Limburgish accent, and his proud of the roots, despite the area being one of the poor areas of the Netherlands. His father was from the Limburg area originally, but his mother fled what is now Indonesia, ow the world’s most populous Muslim country, ass a child while the Dutch colonial assets in the region fell into disarray. While active in politics from an early age, Wilders joined the public service in his early 20s. Motivated by what saw as complete dysfunction and waste, Wilders disdain for the Dutch bureaucracy can be traced back to this stage in his life. Wilders soon joined the VVD, or People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, and began to write for the then leader Frits Bolkestein, a fierce immigration critic. Bolkestein was in many ways a mentor for Wilders, and his anti-immigration tone fostered Wilders pre-existing distrust of immigrants, particularly from Muslim nations. Wilders became a local councillor for the party 1997 in Utrecht, and lived in the city’s poorest – and majority Muslim- neighbourhood of Canal Islands. A year later, was elected into parliament. By this stage, Wilders had dyed his brown hair, taken media training classes, and was preparing to become the Sharpe-tongued MP he is today. Wilders is now the fourth longest serving current MP in the Dutch lower house, making him the very definition of a political insider, and a clear break for the outsider Donald Trump, who he is often compared to. In his early days as a MP for the VVD, Wilders gained a reputation for two things. Firstly, he was known as a party rebel, often willing to speak out against what he perceived to be poor policies. Secondly, he became known as an expert in Islamic terrorism, although before 9-11 this topic was of little interest to many of his peers. Wilders fascination and contempt with Islam has evolved over the decades, but was certainly fostered by a yearlong trip to Israel as a teenager, which helps to explain his current pro-Israel stance. 9/11 reshaped western politics, and the Netherlands was not exempt from this. Suddenly Wilders’ views were a hot commodity. However, still a member of a mainstream party, Wilders was hamstrung by its policy agenda, and felt frustrated that the party was not willing to adopt his anti-Islam policies. In 2004, Wilders broke from the VVD. Shortly thereafter, an assassination rocked the Dutch political landscape. Conservative Pim Fortuyn, a conservative Wilders admired due to his anti-immigration and anti-Islam platform, had already been assassinated by an environmentalist in 2002. But in 2004, a filmmaker, Theo van Gogh was assassinated by a Dutch-Moroccan who was enraged by the artist’s portrayal of Islam. It was discovered the assassin has intentions to kill Wilders too, and Wilders has endured assassination attempts ever since. Thus, for more than a decade, Wilders has lived under police protection. This helps to explain his shifting views on Islam. In 2005, Wilders stated he believed not all Muslims were dangerous, and upheld the principle of freedom of religion. After living under 24-hour security for more than a decade, Wilders now believes the Quran should be outlawed, all mosques shut down, and immigration stopped. Of course, such policies, outlined in his one-page policy manifesto for the 2017 election, would violate EU law. Wilders wants the Netherlands to withdraw from the EU, and while his economic policy is light, certainly has a theme of protectionism. But in order to implement his policies, Wilders and his PVV need to form Government, which will be a challenge for them to do. Wilder’s has created a political party in an unusual way. Prevented from traditional campaigning due to security risks, Wilder’s and a small team of supporters have used the internet and social media to spread his message to the masses. Unlike other political parties, no sizeable party bureaucracy exists, no significant grass roots organisation is utilized to spread the word. The party only has one official member — Wilders himself. Many opponents have suggested this is why the party performed worse than anticipated in 2012, and why Wilder’s will find it hard to find a collation partner, which he is bound to need to form government. Another reason Wilders will find it difficult to form Government is that every major party has indicated it will refuse to work with him. His party briefly supported a minority government in 2010 led by the VVD, his former party, and the Christian Democrats. Eventually Wilders withdrew his support and the government collapsed, and thus many party’s view Wilders and the PVV not only as too extreme, but as unreliable coalition partners. However, if Wilders can win enough seats in the lower house, his participation in a government could be unavoidable. Ultimately, time will tell. Thanks for listening to Black Swan Politics.

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20 thoughts on “Who is Geert Wilders? The story of the Dutch populist who hates Islam

  1. Well Pim is dead, Theo v. Gogh is dead.
    Ayaan fled.
    Wilders 12 years protected.
    What did those figures had in common?
    Nobody can say that islam is not politics and harmfull.

  2. Geert wilders wil destroy the netherlands! all the dumb dutch will vote on him, 2/3 off the netherlands murica youre not the only one with a dumb peoples

  3. Nice informative video. I would like to give an insight look from The Netherlands to add some context. Yes he is extremely outspoken against Islam but a very big part of his voters are not. They vote just like with Trump anti-establishment, and just like Great Brittain anti-EU. Most people want less EU, they do not want no EU at all. Same with Islam, less Islam but no Islam at all is not what they want. After 10 years, indeed, Geert Wilders is way to extreme but the other parties are denying these problems. They do not act like they take these voters serious. So Voters have to choose now: problem deniers or an extemist.

    This makes it a very hard choice for a lot of people. I personally think I will vote on one of the new smaller parties that does not deny the problems but comes with reasonable less radicall solutions. But it probaly won't make a difference xD

  4. hes not a populist, hes not the dutch trump, if they have allot of similarities trump would be the american geert wilders consedring wilders is a politician for like 26 years now

  5. A definition of populism:
    "The political doctrine that supports the rights and powers of the common people in
    their struggle with the privileged elite"

  6. Nice history of Wilders, however the main defining factor is missing: the financiers of his PVV party: The Koch bothers (US Fortune top10) and the associated Bachman's in the US, whom Wilders visits regularly, for lessons in anti-Islam bashing.

    The Koch broths. are catholic-zionists and fanatic supporters of the Jew-only apartheid state of Israël, who came into existence in 1948 after ethnically cleansing and destroying villages of about 700.000 Palestinians.

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