It Would Be ‘Undemocratic’ to Exclude Wilders from Dutch Coalition Talks

Geert Wilders (L), leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) clashed in a head-to-head debate with Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the eve of crunch polls

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.

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.

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.

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.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery


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