I. Some background
First some follow up in the recent developments in Dutch politics. As some might no and some might not, 11 days ago the Dutch Coalition Government collapsed (led by Christian Democrat Jan Peter Balkenende). It was also called the Balkenende IV Government, sort of resembling our own Boc I, II, III, IV, n+1 Government. The coalition failed, mainly because the parties could not decide upon the “Uruzgan issue”, basically sending an additional 2000 Dutch troops to Afghanistan.
Some other background information about the Dutch political system is useful. The Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Labour Party (PvdA) are currently the biggest parties, but not even together can they reach a majority. The newcomer, and up to this moment holding only 5.9% of the parliamentary seats, is the PVV (Partij voor de Vrijheid). It was established in 2004 by controversial (extreme rightist to me) politician Geert Wilders. He is openly anti-Islam, defender of the “Judeo-Christian” values and also did a controversial movie about Islam in the Netherlands, Fitna. Last year he was persona non grata in the UK and he would do anything to stop immigration into the Netherlands (only Muslim of course).
II. What’s happening?
This was all fine and dandy until now. 5.9% is not such a huge percentage that could influence Dutch politics. Well the tides are turning. Local elections were held in The Hague and Almere (new town in the polder-province Flevoland) and there was a big surprise. The second biggest party in The Hague became…well guess? The PVV, runner-ups to the leading party, the Christian Democrats. Out of the 45 seats, the CDU received 10 seats and the PVV 8 seats. Even more than this, in Almere 30% of the voters supported the PVV.
III. Why is this important?
Because the Balkenende IV Government collapsed, there will be new parliamentary elections held in June 2010. Now that is three month ahead. And as the local results showed, even in cities like The Hague, the PVV became the second political presence. Rotterdam will not support the PVV because of its high immigrant population and it will be strange if Amsterdam will do so, for the same reasons. Utrecht, where Wilders currently lives, is on the edge I would say. But more “traditional”, smaller towns as Almere will provide a strong back-bone… Now it is still a matter of speculation, but Wilders was voted second best politician of 2009 and he is rising. I don’t want to make predictions, but the PVV will get at least 10% of the votes in June. And this is quite a lot in a country where the biggest parties get 15-20% maximum.
IV. Personal notes and conclusions.
Two years ago I already wrote two articles about this figure with bleach-blond hair, condemning his actions and predicting a rise of his party. And damn, two years afterwards unfortunately the tides are shifting in his favour.
Why do I hate extremists? I have my motives. I grew up in a city as a member of the Hungarian minority, with an extreme-rightist Romanian mayor who with each occasion targeted the minorities. Because whenever there are economical difficulties or new political changes it is always good to find a “scape-goat”. And the scape-goats are always the minorities, the Jews, the Muslims, the immigrants, the gay and anyone who is not like the majority. I am also an ethnic Hungarian, and during the 2009 EU parliamentary elections the Hungarian Extreme Right (Jobbik) managed to receive 15% of the votes in Hungary. So I grew up in a country that tolerated an extremist, ethnically I belong to a country that sent 3 extremists to the EU Parliament and now I live in a country where I fear the rise of the PVV.
The nationalist, ethnic, “bad-minority”, “bad-immigrants” card is a dangerous one. Politics and democracy means the power of the many. And believe me, many people can be influenced in the wrong way by charismatic, smart leaders (and Geert Wilders is definitely not a dumb one, he knows how to play the game). It is always easier to blame someone for our own problems and most of people are susceptible for this kind of behaviour. You don’t want people pointing at you, just because you speak a different language, you don’t want a mother sending her kid on the bus mentioning “Son, don’t talk X language on the bus”. You don’t want to get a slap or a kick in the ass just because you are different. I had my part of this and call me biased or not, I hate extremists because they are the best at distorting reality.
I have a fear that extremism is rising in the EU. The extreme right got stronger in Hungary and Romania in 2009, it is coming up in the Netherlands, the Swiss had their “referendum” and the French want to ban a lot of Islamic practices…It’s not good, it’s the only thing I can say.
Maastricht, 6 March 2010
Geert Wilders’ Blog: http://www.geertwilders.nl/