How do you say "Reconquista" in Dutch? Anyway, so it begins in Almere, the Netherlands, where Geert Wilders's PVV party looks like the Big Winner in yesterday's munipal elections, also coming in second in The Hague. Best news in a long time.
An only somewhat jaundiced report from the Guardian:
Geert Wilders, the Dutch far-right anti-immigrant maverick, scored big gains in yesterday's local elections in the Netherlands, according to projections last night, indicating he may dominate the political scene in the run-up to the general election in three months.
OK. Let's break it down.
Is Wilders "far-right"? That conjures up visions of state-controlled fascism. What is state-controlled-fascist about a politician such as Wilders who wants to lower taxes, which necessarily reduces the goverrnment power? And what, to take a couple of other Wilders programs, is "far right" about fighting crime and keeping the retirement age at 65? Indeed, what is "far-right" or fascist about Wilders' anti-Islamization program to halt and reverse the creeping totalitarianism of sharia (Islamic law), a religio-fascist program based on mosque-control of public and private life?
Is Wilders "Anti-immigrant"? If immigrants commit crimes, call for jihad or sharia (Islamic law), yes. He also wants to halt Islamic immigration as the only effective means to halt the Islamization process.
A "maverick"? That word had a rough ride in the last US presidential election but yes, Wilders counts as a "maverick" -- along with other such European "mavericks" as Filip Dewinter of Belgium and Oskar Freysinger of Switzerland.
Yesterday's poll, 10 days after the centrist coalition government collapsed, was seen as a gauge of the national mood ahead of the national elections on 9 June.
Wilders last night claimed a big victory, predicting: "We are going to conquer the entire country ... We are going to be the biggest party in the country."
When I first interviewed Geert Wilders in June 2008, he was a party of one.
With almost 400 local authorities being contested, the focus was on only two areas – The Hague and Almere, in the centre of the country – because of the campaign by the anti-Muslim populist to establish his Freedom party in local government for the first time.
According to early results this morning, he won in Almere and came second to the Dutch Labour party in The Hague, the only two places the Freedom Party was running because of a lack of resources and candidates.
Wilders, who likens the Qur'an to Hitler's Mein Kampf --
Gee, so do I -- and so did Winston Churchill
-- and wants Muslim immigrants deported
As mentioned above, yes, if they commit crimes, call for jihad or sharia (Islamic law). He also wants Muslim immigration stopped to prevent the jihad-sharia demographic from increasing
-- is bidding fair to win the general election in June, with the latest opinion polls predicting he might take 27 of the 150 seats in the Netherlands' highly fragmented political scene.
The maverick rightwinger is expected at the House of Lords tomorrow on an invitation from the UK Independence Party for a screening of his incendiary anti-Islamic film, Fitna, after the Home Office barred him from entering Britain last year, a ban that was rescinded.
Fitna is only as "incendiary" as the Koranic war texts and the jihadist speeches and acts that it presents au naturel -- i.e., sans commentary (if you haven't watched it yet, see it here).
Yesterday the civic halls in The Hague and Almere were under heavy security.
In both places and elsewhere scores of men and women turned up to vote wearing headscarves, in protest against Wilders' demand for a tax on Muslim headgear and for the wearing of headscarves to be banned in all public buildings.
While local elections in the Netherlands are usually a subdued affair focused on issues such as cycle paths and rubbish collection, yesterday's poll was dominated by immigration and Afghanistan.
The coalition government of Christian and social democrats fell 10 days ago because the Labour party, the junior partner, refused to extend the presence of 2,000 Dutch troops in Afghanistan who are to be withdrawn from August.
It was the first Nato government to fall because of the war and the collapse looks likely to end the career of Jan Peter Balkenende, the Christian Democrat prime minister who has been in office for eight years.
The Afghan pullout is popular and Labour has risen in the polls as a result. Turnout in The Hague and Almere was several points up on four years ago, suggesting that the Freedom Party would do well.
In Almere, a new town with a population of nearly 200,000 and hardly any immigrants, it was tipped to win.
In The Hague the contest was more even. In European elections last year the Freedom party came second, trouncing Labour in its heartland cities of the western and northern coasts.
Polls predict Wilders could triple his vote at the general election.
Update: More -- and more illuminating -- analysis of "the Wilders momentum" from Paul Belien at the Brussels Journal here.
Another update: Complete (and I mean complete) Dutch election coverage -- including Wilders' victory speech -- at Gates of Vienna.