Radio Netherlands had an article on its website today entitled: “Geert Wilders: Loved and Loathed”
As the author John Tyler correctly muses it is all about Wilders’ rise in polls among Dutch voters while the ruling coalition in the Hague Parliament detests him. As Tyler notes:
Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders has come in second in two polls for politician of the year. A panel of Dutch television viewers said he is the second best politician this year, while Mr Wilders' colleagues in parliament named him the second worst.
Quite a discrepancy. But, actually, not so surprising. It is yet more evidence of the gap between the public and the elite.
Geert Wilders has made the disillusionment of many Dutch voters his reason for being. He is always ready to fight the establishment in the name of the little guy.
Wilders has shaken the Dutch political establishment with his stands on both domestic issues and against Islamization in The Netherlands and the EU.
Witness this from the Radio Netherland article about the game changing political dynamics in Holland that Wilders has effectively exploited.
And it's his followers that have put Mr. Wilders and his Freedom Party in a very strong position: second in European elections last spring, the largest party in the country for the last six months, according to one national opinion pollster. Mr. Wilders himself openly speculates about becoming the next prime minister.
Other political parties are having a tough time dealing with that scenario. The Freedom Party has been accused of having just one issue: anti-Islam. And it is precisely his fervent, if not radical, opposition to outward displays of Islam that brings condemnation from other politicians.
For instance, when Mr. Wilders proposed a tax on women who wear a Muslim headscarf, calling it a 'rag-head tax', other politicians felt Mr. Wilders had finally gone too far.
Mr. Wilders has been successful, but he doesn't owe his success solely to good political tactics. The gulf between the Dutch public and the élite has been wide, and growing, for years now. Voters are no longer faithful to one party; they no longer feel rooted in any particular ideology.
Academics and pollsters have been studying this gulf since the late 1990s. Pim Fortuyn was the first politician to appeal directly to these floating voters, but he was murdered just before elections in the spring of 2002. Since then, voters have been party hopping much more than in decades past, and the established parties have suffered.
Wilders will still have to undergo the legal gauntlet of his trial for hate speech against Islam that begins on January 20, 2010. Should he be acquitted, as both good sense and many of his admirers in The Netherlands, EU and here in North America believe might occur, both he and the Freedom Party will be vaulted into the lead position for the next Parliamentary election in the Netherlands. Should he be vindicated in court and become the next Dutch PM that would make Wilders a formidable leader in the fight against Islamization in the West.
Second to none, I'd say.