Thursday, June 13, 2024

Geert Wilders, who defended Nupur Sharma, could be next Dutch PM. Know more about him

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Far-right populist Geert Wilders could be Netherlands’s first far-right prime minister after his party secured a massive number of seats in the recently held Dutch elections.

Leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) Geert Wilders waves as he arrives at a post-election meeting at the Nieuwspoort conference center in The Hague on November 23, 2023. (AFP)

With nearly all votes counted, Wilders’ party was forecast to win 37 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament, more than double the 17 the party secured in the last election, according to AFP.

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The ruling left-wing alliance under ex-EU commissioner Frans Timmermans is second with 25 seats, followed by the center-right VVD with 24.

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Wilders will now have to persuade other parties to join him in a coalition. His target is 76 seats in the 150-seat parliament, according to the BBC.

A known anti-Islam populist leader, Wilder further told the British broadcaster that he was willing to negotiate and compromise with other parties to become prime minister.

“It is going to happen that the PVV is in the next Cabinet,” said while meeting members of his party. “Can you imagine it? 37 seats!”

Who is Geert Wilders?

  • Born in 1963, Wilders is the founder of the Party for Freedom – the third-largest party in the Netherlands. He has been the party’s leader in the House of Representatives since 1998.
  • Often referred to as a Dutch version of Donald Trump, the 60-year-old has lived under police protection for years due to numerous death threats, which were sparked by his strong anti-Islamic views.
  • In 2022, Wilders made headlines in India after he defended Bharatiya Janata Party leader Nupur Sharma over her controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad. “Appeasement never works. It will only make things worse. So, my dear friends from India, don’t be intimidated by Islamic countries. Stand up for freedom and be proud and steadfast in defending your politician Nupur Sharma who spoke the truth…,” he had said.
  • Wilders had also supported the Indian government’s decision to scrap Articles 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir. “India is a full democracy. Pakistan is a 100% terror state. So the choice is easy. Welcome home #Kashmir. #IndiaForKashmir,” Wilders had posted.
  • This year, Wilders, during his election campaign, had called for a referendum on the Netherlands leaving the European Union, a total halt of asylum-seekers and pushbacks of migrants from Dutch borders.
  • In his victory speech, Wilders said he wanted to end what he called the “asylum tsunami”, referring to the migration issue that came to dominate his campaign. “The Dutch will be No. 1 again,” Wilders said. “The people must get their nation back.”
  • Wilders also advocates the “de-Islamisation” of the Netherlands. He says he wants no mosques or Islamic schools in the country, although he has been milder about Islam during this election campaign than in the past.
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