On the Netherlands

In just three days the Netherlands will have a general election, which may prove to be a highlight of this year’s European elections and another portent of doom for the European Union’s project of “ever closer union”.

The main candidates for the upcoming election are Geert Wilders, the leader of Party for Freedom, Mark Rutte, the current Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Lodewijk Asscher, leader of the Dutch Labour Party, and Emile Roemer, the leader of the Socialist Party, among quite a few other candidates, though I assume much of the election coverage will focus on Wilders and Rutte. The election is being treated by the media as a bellwether for the growth of populism in Europe, and perhaps not for an entirely invalid reason. Europe’s last shake-up was the Italian referendum, when the people voted against the government of the then-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi when it proposed its changes to the constitution. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders is getting a lot of attention due primarily due to his strong stance against Islamization and Islam in general,  as well as his platform of limiting immigration and exiting the European Union. The fact he is running against the current Prime Minister kind of shows that he is going against what is currently the established order in the Netherlands.

The thing is, I find that Wilders himself leaves a sour taste in my mind. While I sympathize with his desire to oppose Islamization in his country, I don’t like his solutions: mainly the fact that he wants to outright ban the Quran and mosques. Honestly I find it quizzical that Wilders is being treated as so analogous to Donald Trump because, say what you will about Trump, at least he never talked about actually banning the dissemination of the Quran or mosques. He talked quite a bit about the threat of *radical* Islam, and wanted to ban immigration from Middle Eastern countries (which is actually permissible according to US law by the way), but not a hell of a lot about Islam as a whole. Wilders, however, seems to view Islam as a doctrine as part and parcel with the threat of Islamic terrorism. To be fair on him, I’ve done a whole month’s series of posts back in August excoriating the teachings of Islam for, among other things, having Quranic verses and Hadiths that justify violence against the non-believers and “hypocrites” (in other words, Muslims who don’t fully or properly practice Islam). But I think that closing mosques and banning the Quran will just drive more Muslims into believing that they are persecuted by the West, which would likely cause them to gravitate towards Islamism, and the measure is simply a form of authoritarianism. For all the acrimony I espouse towards Islam, we already know that the Bible worships a God who talks about genocide on non-believers and at one point commanded murders, so as trite as it seems to my ears one must wonder if the Bible should be banned for being violent religious literature from savage times just as the Quran is if we go down the line of reasoning.

However, I support his desire to exit the European Union, and at the moment it looks like he is the most likely to pursue that exit. I also think he is probably going to take the stronger stance against Turkey. Why is that important? Recently Trukey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is in the business of eroding the liberty and secularism of the Turkish state, had been doing some political campaigning among the Turkish diaspora within the Netherlands and he jailed a Dutch journalist who happened to be a critic of the Erdogan regime. Apparently Erdogan also has a “satellite party” in the Netherlands known as DENK, supposedly representing the Turkish diaspora. So it kind of looks, at least from the outside, as if Turkey is playing a role in influencing what goes on in the Netherlands, which I would describe as very much out of order. And recently, there have riots in the city of Rotterdam carried about by Turkish diaspora members who support Erdogan over the fact that the Netherlands has banned a Turkish foreign minister from visiting, apparently because he was planning to do some political campaigning on behalf of Turkey in the run up to the upcoming election. In response Erdogan, in what I can only assume is an example of a lacking in self-awareness on his part, actually accused the Netherlands of being a fascist country or something to that effect, a sentiment echoed by encephalopaths who actually supported the riots and condemned Turkey for actually blocking a foreign country from influencing its own elections! And Mark Rutte, though recognizing Erdogan’s judgement of the Netherlands as crazy, still wants to maintain relationships with Turkey. Wilders, on the other hand, has sent a video message out to pro-Turkish rioters, and his stance on Turkey is quite clear.

Honestly, this actually makes it harder for me to be totally against Wilders. Don’t get me wrong I don’t like Wilders, but I also detest Erdogan and the Turkish state and thus find the latter party to be worse. And not just for what they’ve been doing in the Netherlands either. Erdogan has gotten a German comedian in legal trouble for satirizing him, used last year’s military coup to, frankly, set Turkey on the road to totalitarianism, and he’s blackmailed the European Union into being friendly with Turkey and opening up negotiations for Turkish entry into the EU on pain of flooding migrants to the European continent. For that, I would likely vouch for anyone in the Netherlands who’s prepared to stand up to Turkey. And, unfortunately, it looks Wilders is the guy to do it.

It’s probably going to be a real shit show out there, and I’m not enthused about any of the candidates. All’s I can hope for is that something worthwhile comes out of all this.

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4 responses to “On the Netherlands

  1. I live in the Netherlands and agree that Wilders is dangerous – and kind of a hypocrite too, with his ‘looks like I’m a white Dutch guy’ bleached blond hair (in fact there is, mixed in to his background, Indonesian and Ashkenazi Jewish blood). I don’t agree that he is a good counterpoint to Erdogan, who is really fucking dangerous, simply because every Muslim or Muslima, or not naturalised-citizen, in NL hates Wilders. He deserves it, he’s a hate monger.
    I finally have a dutch passport, and I finally get to vote…Partij voor de Dieren.
    This is one big problem in the US, and it has led to the current horrible mess: Yáll, two political parties (both of them supported by big business interests) are not enough. In a country as big as the US, should’t there be 17 parties (like NL some years) out of which at least 3 or 4 or 5 will attract sufficient votes to shake things up and avoid any 45-like disasters here?

  2. A balanced and thoughtful post in my opinion. It underlines how much of a problem there is in parts of Europe, problems that are going to work themselves out one way or another, sooner or later, and they aren’t always nice or easy choices, due to the mess that has accrued. I don’t know much about Wilders, but from what you say he is illiberal, in opposition to different kinds of illiberalism

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