Dutch Far-right Leader Opens Twitter for His Cats, Sparks 'Pussy' Controversy of His Own

After losing the recent Dutch parliamentary election, populist politician Geert Wilders opened a Twitter for his cats and still raised hackles.

Geert Wilders and his cats Snoetje and Pluisje have caused a Twitter-storm
Screen grab

After failing in his attempt to win the recent parliamentary election in the Netherlands, and with the certain prospect of being left out in the cold when the new government coalition is formed, controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders has still managed to stay in the headlines. This time it’s thanks to his cats. Or to be more precise, thanks to the test of principle that his cats presented to the Dutch media.

Here are the developments in this strange but interesting case: Snoetje and Pluisje are two kittens with brown-white fur. They belong to Wilders, the leader of the far-right, anti-Muslim Parrty for Freedom (PVV). Several days ago, Wilders opened a Twitter account, @Wilderspoezen, named after his cats. He began to tweet in their name, and within a very short time managed to attract thousands of followers (almost 7,000 as of Tuesday), the last tweet to the Hebrew-version of this very article.

Several newspapers and other media outlets reported about Wilder's cats' Twitter account, including the highly regarded, mass-circulation newspaper AD, which published the story on its website. Shortly afterwards, a member of the ruling Liberal party, Frans Weisglas, a former speaker of the Dutch parliament, reacted with amazement. In a tweet addressed to the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Hans Nijenhuis, he wrote: “Dear Nijenhuis, Can you explain the relevance of this story in your serious newspaper?”

Very soon the editor-in-chief’s response was posted on Twitter — a confession that he was unable to explain the matter: “I only saw it now. I was at the movies. We’re removing it.”

Gert Wilders at the Dutch parliament in The Hague, on March 16, 2017, the day after parliamentary elections.
Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

And in fact the report was removed from the website within minutes. But that prompted a saga of its own. A raft of reactions and comments, mainly directed against Nijenhuis, began to run riot on social media. Many of Wilders’ fans (after all, he did receive 13 percent of the vote in the mid-March election), raised questions such as: “Are the media now boycotting not only Wilders – but his cats too?”

And at that point, the argument strayed from politics and expanded into a battle between cat lovers and cat haters. It turns out that in the Netherlands, the subject has a history and strikes an emotional chord. Others comments expressed amazement at the fact that the editor openly took editorial orders from a politician. “Is the ruling party now running the newspapers too?” asked a number of people in various iterations. “Is AD now part of the party?” it was asked.

The wave of reaction and the fact that the story became the talk of the town, at least in the media industry, forced Hans Nijenhuis to publish a response, which he did on his Facebook page: “I did not see the relevance of publishing the fact that the leader of PVV opened a Twitter account for his cats. Geert Wilders’ cats are not part of our journalistic mission. We aren’t boycotting Wilders’ cats, but that’s on condition that they have something important to say.“

In a separate tweet, the editor added: “To err is not so terrible, but to insist on [perpetuating] a mistake is a bad thing. That’s why we removed the story from the website.”