Searchlight - September 2010
Political chaos in the Netherlands is continuing after former prime minister Ruud Lubbers' mission to form a majority coalition, flopped.
Now, after consulting the leaders of all parties, he has allowed the leaders of the right-wing liberal Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the Christian Democrats (CDA) and the Freedom Party (PVV) sit together to hammer out a coalition agreement.
Without Lubbers' supervision, the leaders of the three parties, Mark Rutte (VVD), Maxime Verhagen (CDA) and Geert Wilders (PVV) started talks at the same time as recognising mutual differences on "the nature and character of Islam".
Differences notwithstanding, there is also much that bring the parties together: making the Netherlands stronger, safer and more prosperous being seen as a common goal and starting point and facilitating an agreement that Wilders' Freedom Party will be involved in moves to support a new government. Any agreement between the parties would have include deals on slashing government spending, immigration, integration and asylum, law and order and better care for the elderly.
With this declaration, arguably the worst case scenario, that could lead to the most right-wing government since the Second World War, negotiations, supervised by the VVD former mayor of Rotterdam, Ivo Opstelten, have now started between the three parties. Opstelten led the Rotterdam city council, when a predecessor of the PVV, Pim Fortuyn's Livable Rotterdam, entered a government coalition in 2002.
Consequently, Wilders hoped-for position of kingmaker is now under earnest negotiation, his role model being Pia Kjaersgaard's Danish People's Party (DF) which has, since 2001, propped up three minority governments of liberals and conservatives and has inveigled them to introduce some of the most draconian immigration laws in Europe. Wilders and Kjaersgaard are no strangers to each other, having met several times and discussed the strategy of being a support act that actually runs the show.
Should a Danish-style arrangement come into being in the Netherlands, the crazed Islamophobe Wilders would become the most influential politician in the Netherlands, effectively the power behind the scenes. Having complete control over the PVV which will have no ministerial responsibilities, Wilders will be able to hire and fire ministers from other parties if he objects to their policies.
Worse, he will participate in meetings between VVD and CDA about a coalition agreement but will not have sign one. Wilders will also be at the meetings where names of potential ministers will be discussed and he can offer his opinion, for example, about any appointments of ministers holding dual nationality.
Some time ago, Rutte said that Wilders "has the darkest ideas" That was before Wilders really started raving about taxing headscarves and deporting millions of Muslims from Europe. Now, in talks with Wilders, he does not mention these "dark ideas".
Only one prominent liberal, the former president of parliament, Frans Weisglas, speaks openly out against the Freedom Party's role, declaring that "The exclusion and discrimination of a group of people in our country, wanting to raise taxes on 'headrags' and the ethnic registration of our citizens don't belong in our constitutional state".
Many observers think it is hard to believe that a liberal like Rutte will ultimately agree with state interference on the matters of, for example, Muslim headscarves in public buildings, a ban on the Koran and a ban on building mosques as laid out in the PVV's programme.
Of the much-vaunted "principles" of the CDA's leader Verhagen, who as foreign minister clashed regularly with Wilders, for example after the release of his film Fitna, nothing remains. Nor, such is Verhagen's hunger for an – illusory – share of power, is anything left of his demand, in June this year, that there should be "No giving in to Freedom Party's ideas against the democratic constitutional state, as taxes on headscarves, a ban on the Koran and ethnic registration."
The parties' fudged a statement about holding different opinions on Islam means not only that Wilders can continue to vent his rage against it in parliament and abroad but the impact will be much bigger now, since Wilders, one way or another, will be seen as part of the government.
Another pressing problem is the Freedom's Party desire to elevate the "struggle against Islam" to the core of Dutch foreign policy. Wilders is again going to make efforts to build an international anti-Islam coalition by establishing a new network, the International Freedom Alliance (IFA). Together with allies from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, he will launch the network at the end of the year.
Wilders seemingly hopes to position his alliance in the political space between traditional conservative parties and the far right-wing groups. His allies in the US include Pamela Geller, a rabid anti-Islam and anti-Obama blogger, who published a book together with fellow Islamophobic fanatic Robert Spencer, who runs the website Jihad Watch. In the book, The Post-American Presidency, The Obama Administration´s War on America, the duo rage against "Barack Hussein Obama" and claim that he is an "Islamophile" with "a great desire to submit himself to the Islamic world", that he wants to "impose a soft sharia" on America and is "the most anti-Israel president of the US ever".
Wilders writes in a recommendation on the back cover of the book that it is presents "a terrifying analysis" and "unmasks Obama's philosophy of almost universal 'moral equality', a philosophy that is the partner of the cultural relativism that poisoned Europe for the last decades"
. Wilders will repeat similar anti-Islam, anti-Obama sentiments when he speaks at Ground Zero in New York on 11 September at the invitation of the "Stop the Islamisation of America" movement. His speech there will be part of a protest at the building of a Mosque, near Ground Zero, the scene of the Islamist terror assault on the the city in 2001. The difference will be that Wilders will also be seen – even if incorrectly in a formal sense –as a member of the Dutch government.
And, on 5 October, just a few weeks after his Ground Zero performance, this same "kingmaker" and fan of tough law and order measures will find himself in court, accused of inciting hatred. The racists, fascists and football louts of the English Defence League, who earlier welcomed Wilders to London, will travel to Amsterdam to meet their Dutch allies for a rally in his support.
Jeroen Bosch for Alert! and Antifa-Net in Amsterdam