Anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders said on Sunday (12 February) that promises by other parties not to work with him would be quickly forgotten if, as expected, his far-right Party of Freedom gets more than 30 parliamentary seats in next month’s election.
He then traded barbs on Twitter with Prime Minister Mark Rutte about who will work with whom after the 15 March vote.
Wilders has proclaimed that Europe is about to enter a “Patriotic Spring” in which populist parties will triumph in the Netherlands and France following last year’s vote by Britain to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as US president.
Freedom leads in most opinion polls, with Rutte’s conservative VVD party in second place. But the VVD and other Dutch mainstream parties have said they won’t enter into a coalition with Wilders because his platform calls for banning mosques and the Koran as well as leaving the European Union.
In his first major televised interview ahead of the election, Wilders said on Sunday that those promises would be ditched if Freedom gets 30 or more seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament.
Alternative coalitions would prove unworkable and shutting him out would lead to a popular “revolt,” he said.
In response, Rutte tweeted a link to a video clip of himself categorically ruling out cooperation with Wilders.
Nul procent, Geert. NUL procent.
— Mark Rutte (@markrutte) February 12, 2017
“Zero percent (chance) Geert, ZERO percent. It. Is. Not. Going. To. Happen”, he tweeted on his personal account, the first time it has been used in five years.
The VVD, however, said Rutte’s tweet represented both his personal position and the party line.
Wilders, a prolific user of Twitter, quickly shot back: “It’s the voters who are in charge of this country Mark, for a HUNDRED percent. And. Nobody. In. The. Netherlands. Still. Believes. You.”
De kiezers zijn de baas in dit land Mark. Voor HONDERD procent.
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) February 12, 2017
Pollster Maurice de Hond said on Sunday his weekly poll showed Freedom slipping from 32 to 30 seats, with Rutte’s VVD gaining one to 26 seats.
In the interview, Wilders repeated remarks he has made frequently in the past, offensive to many, comparing the Koran to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”.
A self-avowed admirer of Trump, Wilders said the Netherlands does not need to build a wall to keep out foreigners but should re-establish border controls.
In December, Wilders was convicted of insulting Moroccans and inciting discrimination against them for leading supporters in chanting they wanted “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!” of them in the country.
He is appealing the ruling.