Geert Wilders’ party – the PVV (Freedom Party) won the local elections of Almere city with 21% of the vote, making it the biggest party in the city council, and the one which will have to form the governing coalition for Almere.
Wilders is the Dutch parliamentarian who says that Islam is a “backward” religion, even political ideology; that the government should promulgate an “immigration-stop” from Muslim countries, and even repatriate many Muslim residents from the Netherlands. He had announced before the elections that one of his hard demands will be a prohibition on (Muslim) headscarfes inside government buildings, or inside any institution getting a subsidy from the government.
Now, with the victory in Almere, he has to go ahead with his many anti-Muslim policies.
But he is not on his way to becoming the country’s Prime Minister. In the first place, the PVV had peaked before the local elections. Surveys conducted weeks earlier forecast that PVV will get 30% of the vote. They ended up with a “mere” 21%. The PVV only fielded candidates in two cities – Almere and The Hague – because Wilders calculated that its chances were best there. Thus, if 21% is all he can get in Almere, the percentage of the national vote that he can get in June is sure to be less than 21%.
Even if Wilders PVV gets more than 21% come June, this will not be enough to become the biggest party. The Social Democrats (PvdA) will probably get more than 21% and become the largest party in parliament; giving it the prerogative of forming the ruling coalition. And the PvdA has stated quite clearly that it will not form a government with the PVV.
Muslim Netherlanders are now in the midst of a massive campaign to get out their vote come June. They know that the PVV is out to get anti-Muslim policies passed in parliament. These voters will vote mostly for the PvdA and Green Left (Groen Links), the only two parties with good policies on integration.
At the same time, the PVV is sure to face problems in Almere, since the proposed ban on headscarves is not only unpopular, it is most probably also unconstitutional. And the PVV doesn’t have too much else to offer its mass base. And even this mass base is not as solid as Wilders makes it out to be. On voting day last 3 March, it was really difficult to get PVV supporters to talk to the media – they were too ashamed to admit that they were PVV voters. I think that although the PVV may have a solid base among the country’s rednecks, many others only look at them as a protest party, and are shocked by the reaction of the rest of the country on them. Thus, when election day in June comes, I think that the “protest voter” base of the PVV will evaporate.