Searchlight - June 2010
Following the victories of the Freedom Party (PVV) in recent local elections in Almere where Geert Wilders' one-man enterprise finished as the biggest party and The Hague where it came in as the second largest party, the focus has switched to the party's practical role.
In The Hague, the election winners, the Labour Party (PvdA), excluded the PVV from the governing coalition, stating it could never work with a party that wants to ban Muslim headscarves in state and state-subsidised institutes and buildings, for example public libraries.
In Almere, on the other hand, the PVV took the initiative in holding talks with all parties except for the local Livable Almere which denounced called the PVV as "fascist". Because the PVV stuck to its hardline campaign positions such as banning headscarves, its plan for a "city-commando"-style private army and further measures against supposed "Islamisation", other parties have rejected its overtures.
The result? Exit the PVV in The Hague where the PVV had wanted a halt to building mosques and a ban on Islamic education. PVV-voters are not happy with this cowardly decision to walk away from responsibility and the PVV is now being accused of ducking out, knowing that no sane party would back its racist ideas.
At party meetings, rabid rightist populist Wilders has tried to limit the damage already caused by stating that headscarves were not a non-negotiable issue but this ploy failed and his party found itself in the position of being accused of what traditional parties are usually accused of, namely backing down on election pledges once elected.
Though the PVV dropped in the opinion polls, talks for a coalition in Almere recommenced. During these "negotiations" Wilders went to Monschau, a small town in Germany's scenic Eifel region, for a short holiday break but his visit made headlines when he had a "small nervous breakdown", blowing his cover of a false name.
When ambulances turned up at the hotel, the German police ended up having a standoff with Wilders' bodyguards much to the anger of town mayor Margareta Ritter who declared uncompromisingly that "a person who like Wilders poisons the Dutch integration debate with right-wing populism and calls for a ban on the Koran comparing it with Hitler's Mein Kampf, is not welcome in Monschau". "Discrimination and racism do not belong here, and the freedom of speech has to be accompanied by social responsibility," she added in an official statement.
Another recent failure by Wilders has been his bombastic announcement of a documentary movie, planned to launch in Los Angeles, with the title Islam rising: Geert Wilders' warning to the West. The move hit the rocks, however, when it emerged that his "friends" in the US who co-made the movie, the Christian Action Network (CAN), are viscerally homophobic.
Though Wilders knew that the CAN was against gay marriage, he said he disagreed but added that it could "of course they can make a movie about me". CAN saw it differently. Hardly a surprise when one of the film's producers turned out to have made vicious anti-gay statements, including making claims that gays are "perverts and child abusers who commit murders and who spread frightening diseases". Because of this embarrassment, the launch, scheduled for 1 May, was cancelled. Wilders quickly withdrawing from the project and hoping that nobody would ever mention it again.
Wilders' latest stunts are aimed at hijacking the news by revealing his "programme" piecemeal. At the end of March, for instance, the PVV was announced that it wants to deploy military police to combat criminal immigrants, to strip them from Dutch nationality and sent them back to the country of origin.
Few noticed but then PVV parliamentarian Hero Brinkman, a former Amsterdam policeman, again made headlines with his violence. After Brinkman battered a bartender in the parliamentary journalist's café Nieuwspoort in The Hague and had to admit he had a drink problem, this voice of law-and-order grabbed renewed public attention by waving a sledgehammer at a neighbour who lives next to him in the same house. The case brought a long history of conflicts and complaints to the police to light. As a result, Wilders prohibited Brinkman from talking to the press and gave him a lower place on the election candidates' list.
The launching of the list of candidates for the parliamentary elections of 9 June will be risky moment, and despite heavy screening by the PVV and Wilders' personal training of the candidates, some opportunists or worse have found their way onto the list. Number 5, Gide Markuszower underlines, as the spokesman of the Dutch counterpart of the Israeli right-wing party Likud, the PVV's stand on Israel and on the conflict with the Palestinians.
Not only this, Markuszower, a zionist extremist, wants to expel Jews from the Jewish community in the Netherlands if they agree with the conclusions of judge Richard Goldstone's report on war crimes by Israel and Hamas during the Gaza conflict in January 2009. He was also caught by the police carrying a loaded gun as a guard at a celebration of 60 years of Israel in Amsterdam in 2008. After these revelations, Markuszower withdrew his candidacy.
Number 9 on the list, Mellony van Hemert, wrote a book about a notorious child murder but the publisher withdrew it just before publication, not trusting its content. Van Hemert, it was revealed, lied about being a psychologist and holding a doctorate as stated on her CV on the PVV's website. Within days she withdrew her candidature for "medical reasons" and refused further comment…as did the PVV.
The PVV would like to commence battle with the PvdA's new leader, the former mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen, in the contest to see who will be The Netherlands' next prime minister. Cohen is widely respected as bridge builder between cultures but is also known as a hardliner on immigration, being the architect of Dutch immigration laws passed in the 1990s. He is widely seen as the next prime minister and a far better bet than Wilders.
Jeroen Bosch for Alert! and Antifa-Net in Amsterdam