Geert Wilders opened the conference with a key note speech in which he suggested Europe was primed for a “European spring.” Wilders comment was an obvious reference to the so-called Arab spring in which numerous countries had mass protests pushing for regime change. In Wilder’s view that corrupt government which needs to be thrown off is the European Union:
Europe might be on the verge of a fundamental change for the better. We seem to be on the eve of a major and truly historic event, and I’m not exaggerating. In Europe now the time is right for a glorious, democratic and non-violent revolution to preserve our national freedom and restore our sovereignty. Because exactly one year from now the 27 member states of the European Union will be holding elections for the European parliament. And people finally for the first time, all over Europe, are ready to rebel at the ballot box. They reject the transfer union. They no longer want to pay for other corrupt states. They reject the super-national experiment of the European Union. They are ready to cast their votes for a restoration of national sovereignty. They are ready to defend, finally, their cultural identity.
And all they need is a decent political leadership to lead their nation out of the European Union and towards a better future. And I know and you know that it was America’s first President, George Washington, who has shown that when courageous and democratic politicians are available to lead their country, they can lay the groundwork for a lasting democratic framework that guarantees freedom and prosperity for centuries to come.
My friends, my party in the Netherlands and so many other parties in other European countries are preparing themselves for next year electoral landslide. We can feel the heartbeat of new patriotism in Europe. Winter is over. Spring is coming. The European spring is upon us and we are getting ready for it.
Wilders did cite some evidence that popular skepticism of the EU is on the rise throughout Europe. It remains to be seen whether that will crystallize into a rejection of the EU. As the situation in Egypt has demonstrated, populist uprisings, even when they succeed, don’t guarantee that what follows will always be an improvement.