BRUSSELS - Geert Wilders, the far-right populist Dutch leader, upped his rhetoric before the country’s elections, saying in an interview Sunday that mosques are “Nazi temples” and that if Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf is banned for sale, then Koran should also be banned due to its “hatred, violence and anti-Semitism.”
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Wilders, whose Party of Freedom (PVV) is leading the polls ahead of the March 15 election, conceded in his interview with national Dutch television that ”We’re not going to go take the Koran out of people’s homes. Of course not.” Nonetheless, he insisted that sales of the book, which is holy to Muslims, would be barred in the Netherlands.
Freedom's platform, published in August, was only one page long and Wilders refused to flesh out any additional details in the interview regarding his party’s plans on the economy, if and when they assume the reins of government.
Wilders claimed that party’s platform could have been printed on the back of a stamp: “This is our vision and these are the main strands I am not going to promise voters anything apart from this. We will make the Netherlands ours again, we will close the borders and all that money we send abroad – to Africa, to Brussels, to Greece, to asylum-seekers in the Netherlands.”
Wilders has proclaimed that Europe is about to enter a “Patriotic Spring,” which will see populist parties triumph in the Netherlands and France following last year’s vote by Britain to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.
Freedom leads in most opinion polls, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD party in second place. But the VVD and other Dutch mainstream parties have said they won’t enter into a coalition with Wilders because his platform calls for leaving the European Union as well as banning mosques and the Koran.
Wilders said on Sunday that those promises would be abandoned if PVV gets 30 or more seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament.
“In the first place, they’ll have to,” he said. “You can’t just shove two and a half million people aside after democratic elections, that would be very ill-advised.”
He predicted a non-violent “revolt” if Freedom is sidelined and added that left-right coalitions encompassing 5 or more parties – the only alternative on current projections – would prove unworkable.
That kind of coalition would “be so unstable that not only will it not serve the country, but it will be lying on its ass within a year, to put it crudely,” he said.
In response, Rutte tweeted a link to a video clip of himself categorically ruling out cooperation with Wilders.
“Zero percent [chance] Geert, ZERO percent. It. Is. Not. Going. To. Happen,” he tweeted on his personal account, the first time it has been used in five years. Rutte's party said that his tweet represented both his personal position and the party line.
Wilders, a prolific user of Twitter, quickly shot back: “It’s the voters who are in charge of this country Mark, for a HUNDRED percent. And. Nobody. In. The. Netherlands. Still. Believes. You.”
Pollster Maurice de Hond said on Sunday his weekly poll showed Freedom slipping from 32 to 30 seats, with Rutte’s VVD gaining one to 24 seats.