Some disturbing news out of the Netherlands this week. The campaign of upstart politician and Member of Parliament Geert Wilders has suspended all public appearances and rallies in a move which is expected to last through the election next month. Wilders has been a constant target of threats throughout his career but now things have gotten extremely serious. A plot was uncovered which could have placed him in extreme peril, hence this move to stay out of the public eye for a while. (NewsTalk.com)
Geert Wilders, the leader of the Netherland’s rising populist anti-migrant right, has suspended public campaigning ahead of March 15th’s election.
Local media reports that a series of leaks from his police security team to a “Dutch-Moroccan criminal gang” have been discovered, resulting in a series of arrests.
Mr Wilders has repeatedly called Morrocan migrants “scum” – his far-right campaign has also promised to close all Dutch mosques.
One of the arrested police was of Moroccan origin.
While we have experienced similar threats of violence (or, sadly, the reality of it) here in the United States, this is truly disturbing. Geert Wilders has obviously angered many people in the immigrant community, particularly among the Moroccans, so they were on the lookout for potential attacks. But the ongoing plot which was uncovered involved his own security detail. It is alleged that one member of his team (who is of Moroccan heritage himself) had been feeding information about the candidate’s schedule and travel plans to elements of a criminal gang.
That’s about as bad as it gets. When the situation reaches the point where the very people charged with keeping you alive turn out to be in league with the criminals who are trying to kill you, public appearances are simply no longer an option. I suppose a revamped security detail could get Wilders back on the road in the next couple of weeks but does he really need to at this point? He’s already leading in the polls according to every source and, much like Donald Trump, tends to use social media and free coverage from the press corps to take his message to the voters directly. Having been out on the trail for all this time and with only a few weeks to go, how much more bang for the buck would he really get from a few more rallies?
There’s also the possibility that the exposure of this plot could backfire spectacularly on Wilders’ opponents. This will simply draw even more media attention to his campaign while simultaneously painting him in a sympathetic light. Even more to the point, Wilders has based much of his campaign on controlling the criminal threat posed by Moroccan gangs. The arrest of Moroccan gang members coordinating a planned attack on a Member of Parliament only goes to reinforce his campaign message in stark fashion.
Before closing, I will direct your attention to some additional reading from Bloomberg. It’s an interesting media spin on the Wilders campaign which attempts to paint him as a European version of Donald Trump. It’s definitely a negative piece and I believe it mentions Trump more times than it does Geert Wilders, but it’s fun to see how some in the press corps are reacting to what is looking more and more like an inevitable Wilders victory next month.