Diverging from his usual policy, right-wing member of parliament Geert Wilders had an interview on Dutch television. The self-proclaimed right-wing broadcasting service Wij Nederland (We Netherlands, a.k.a. WNL), a broadcasting service for ‘normal, hard working and entrepreneurial’ Dutch citizens which aims to make Dutch television more representative of Dutch society, managed to get Geert Wilders in its morning show WNL op Zondag.
Wilders seemed to be trying to come across as a moderate candidate, and not as a radical. For instance, Wilders made very clear that everyone who sticks to his interpretation of the rules, is welcome to stay in this country. However, anything Islamic is not part of those rules, and he proposes to close mosques and ban the Quran. Moreover, he believes population growth in Africa could lead to a surge in emigration to Europe. Unless the Netherlands is able to prevent immigration from Islamic countries and Africa, these immigrants will fundamentally change Western societies for the worse, according to Wilders.
The interview was typified by a reluctance on Wilder’s behalf to provide any detailed overviews of how he aims to achieve his goals. However, while in words Wilders seems to disagree on many issues with Órban and Trump, as he claims to be protecting freedom and the rule of law in this interview, he does not criticise their policies. Seeing as Wilders says he wants to ban the Quran and close mosques, and supports the implementation of similar policies by Órban, we can only assume that if Wilders gets the chance, he will indeed close mosques and ban the Quran.
However, Wilders does claim he is fundamentally opposed to violence. As someone who has suffered from threats against his life for over 12 years now, and who has lived with security personnel around him 24/7 for 12 years, he says he opposes violence. Yet, the government would have to arrest and detain Muslims who open their mosques regardless of a prohibition of mosques. How Wilders intends to close mosques without using such violence, is unclear.
Yesterday it was also announced that Wilders and Prime-Minister Rutte will not attend the ‘prime-minister’s debate’, which RTL had planned for the 26th of February. While RTL had initially promised to invite only 4 debaters in total, it had invited Klaver (GroenLinks), Pechtold (D66) and Van Haersma Buma (CDA) as well.
It is less clear why this was problematic for Rutte and Wilders. It is speculated that they want to avoid debates because they want to create an atmosphere in which the elections appear to go between Rutte and Wilders, while additionally television appearances do not go well for Wilders.