Elections in the Netherlands are three weeks away. According to the Peilingwijzer, Geert Wilders’ PVV remains ahead in the polls. With the prospect of the PVV becoming the largest political party in the Netherlands, it is reasonable to ask what this will mean for Dutch politics and society in concrete terms. But with a reputation for spurning interviews, resorting to glib but vague rhetoric, and relying on Twitter to air his views, details are something on which it can be difficult to pin Wilders down.
Besides, you know, CONQUER BACK HOLLAND:
Nederland terugveroveren. pic.twitter.com/mfZZt4tpI5
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) August 9, 2016
Call him out with “Hoe dan, Geert?”
On Zondag met Lubach last weekend, presenter Arjen Lubach devoted almost 20 minutes to a dissection (or attempted dissection) of Geert Wilder’s designs for the Netherlands. The PVV’s slogan “Maak Nederland weer van ons” (make the Netherlands ours again) is well known. But what, if anything, does it actually mean?
The few policy points that can be identified, such as banning the Koran and closing all mosques (both of which are unconstitutional), are, by Wilders’ own admission, “symbolic” bans rather than practicable policies. So what is left? What actually happens in real terms if the PVV gets into power? Nobody, not even Wilders, seems able to provide an answer.
Is it all a giant ruse?
Perhaps it is easy to presume that Wilders himself does not believe he will get into power, that a vote for the PVV is essentially a protest vote, and that even PVV voters don’t really want to be governed by the PVV. And yet, “Make the Netherlands ours again” bears a striking resemblance to “Take back control” (Brexit) and “Make America great again” (Trump), and these campaigns did win, whether anyone really thought they would or not.
The Brexit and Trump camps are now having to do what they said they would do during their campaigns, however dangerous or unachievable this may be. Therefore it is not enough just to laugh off the PVV’s vague slogans. One way to stop Wilders on 15 March is to expose the lack of detail in his scant policy plans, and show that they are clearly bogus.
Hence whenever Wilders mentions one of the impossible things he wants to do, Arjen Lubach suggests asking him “hoe dan?” (but how?).
— Lisa Peute (@lisasophiamm) February 21, 2017
The election clock is ticking
It is hard to say whether we will get any more details on Wilders’ policy proposals before elections on 15 March. Opportunities may be slim, given that he has withdrawn from TV debates. Furthermore, as the Brexit and Trump victories have shown, there might be a large number of voters out there who really don’t care about details.
The only answer is to do exactly as the PVV suggests, and “Ga stemmen” (Go and vote). Just not for the PVV.