Dutch populist Geert Wilders believes it would be “undemocratic” for Prime Minister Mark Rutte to exclude him from coalition talks after his Freedom Party advanced from the third- to the second-largest party in the Netherlands.
Bloomberg reports that Rutte is having Edith Schippers, the Liberal health minister, relay informal coalition proposals to the Christian Democrats and the centrist, europhile, D66 party.
Wilders wants Rutte to consider a more conservative platform, which would include the Christian Democrats but also the 50Plus party, which gives a voice to older voters, and the Reformed Political Party (SGP), which has a focus on preserving the country’s Protestant heritage, as well as the populist Forum for Democracy.
We were the 3rd largest party of the Netherlands.
Now we are the 2nd largest party.
Next time we will be nr. 1! pic.twitter.com/lKN5CFUhPT
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) March 16, 2017
However, with polls originally having pointed to the Freedom Party becoming the largest political grouping in the country, much of the mainstream press spun Wilders’s advances as a defeat for the so-called “Far Right”.
Rutte described the results in those terms, despite his own party losing seats and a significant number of supporters. “The Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘stop’ to the wrong kind of populism,” he declared.
— Cas Mudde (@CasMudde) March 15, 2017
Wilders, however, has been consistently upbeat, declaring that “the fight against islamization and the EU will be tougher, stronger and far more effective now, [with the PVV] being the second strongest political power” in the Netherlands.
The fight against islamization and the EU will be tougher, stronger and far more effective now, being the second strongest political power! pic.twitter.com/0GbkCnooI5
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) March 17, 2017
It seems unlikely that Rutte will be persuaded to come to the negotiating table, having vowed he would never work with Wilders after comments he made about Moroccan criminals.
Rutte doubled down on this pledge in a pre-election debate, claiming: “Since [the Moroccan comments] you have radicalised still further by saying the mosques will close and you will remove Qur’ans from people’s homes.”
“I will not work with a politician like that, either in government or with a supporting deal. Not ever, ever,” Rutte said.