Thursday, March 4, 2010
Anti-Islam leader is major winner in Dutch polls
Dutch anti-Islamist leader Geert Wilders scored major gains in local authority polls. In the first test of public opinion since the collapse of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's coalition government, Wilders's Freedom Party (PVV) led in the city of Almere and was second in The Hague. The results came on top of an opinion poll showing that the PVV, which campaigns against Muslim immigration as its main platform, would win the most seats - 27 in the 150-member Dutch parliament - in the June 9, 2010 election. That would make it tough for Balkenende's Christian Democrats, projected to win one seat less, to forge a strong coalition without Wilders. Months of talks between parties, and the resulting policy vacuum, could threaten a fragile economic recovery and cast doubt on the scope of planned budget cuts. Wilders compares Islam to fascism and the Koran to Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf. The PVV has been pitching its policies to a nation of 16 million that is turning increasingly inward as the economy struggles and social tensions rise. There are nearly 1 million Muslims in the Netherlands.