We’re still not finished talking about Brexit, but next slogan to gain international attention may be “Nexit” given what’s going on in the Netherlands these days. In a very troubling sign, Dutch member of Parliament Geert Wilders was convicted of “hate speech” in court this week. His crime? Addressing a rally of his supporters earlier in the year where people were shouting “fewer” when speaking of how many Moroccan immigrants they wanted in the country. (The Guardian)
A Dutch court has convicted populist anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders of hate speech charges at the end of a trial he branded a politically motivated “charade” that endangered freedom of speech.
Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said the court would not impose a sentence on Wilders, saying that the conviction was punishment enough for a democratically elected politician.
The charges stem from a 2014 incident in which Wilders led supporters to chant that they wanted “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!” Moroccans in the Netherlands.
You read that correctly. An elected representative was convicted in a trial for talking about public policy. If that doesn’t send a chill down your spine then you are considerably more comfortable with socialism than you should be. As for Wilders himself, he found the idea to be insane. (Reuters)
Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders said his conviction on Friday of discrimination and inciting hatred was “insanity” and said the three judges who handed down the ruling were “haters” of his far-right Freedom Party (PVV).
“Three PVV-hating judges declare Moroccans a race and convict me and half of the Netherlands. Insane,” he wrote in a tweet shortly after the verdict.
It’s interesting that the court decided not to impose any sort of sentence on Wilders, saying that the conviction itself was “punishment enough.” That conclusion is obviously based on the assumption that the public could take care of chastising the politician for his unpopular speech by ostracizing him. Since Geert is the founder and head of the Freedom Party (or more properly translated, “Party for Freedom”) you’d expect them to be taking a hit in the polls from this embarrassing defeat. How’s that working out? (Express.co.uk)
Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party soars ahead in polls
The party, led by the controversial Geert Wilders, would beat prime minister Mark Rutte’s ruling conservative liberals if elections were held today.
The Freedom Party (PVV) can count on 29 seats out of the 150-seat chamber, according to the latest IPSOS poll, making it the largest party in the Netherlands.
In the space of one month the popularity of the PVV has surged with an increase of six seats.
In terms of European politics specifically, Nexit could be the next big thing. The growing unrest over the immigration crisis, terrorism and crime has spread across much of the EU and the Netherlands is no exception. If a large enough chunk of the people are hungry for change, Wilders seems to be the face of that movement. They have their own elections coming up in a few months and a sharp turn to the right would be an indicator that one more domino is getting ready to fall.
The item here which American observers might view optimistically however is the “insanity” which Wilders referred to. We can think of the Dutch as pleasant folks in a western nation who grow wonderful flowers if we wish, but underneath it all they are still essentially a socialist state. It’s a small and comparatively prosperous one to be sure, but they carry with them many of the typical hallmarks of socialism. One of those is the lack of any meaningful freedom of speech. Sure, you can say all sorts of things in public, provided it’s not too “controversial” or something the government doesn’t like. They technically have freedom of speech in their constitution, but as we’ve seen here with Wilders, all they have to do is slap the phrase “hate speech” on the charges and that freedom evaporates pretty quickly.
So with the rise of the Freedom Party, are people finally getting tired of this? We’ll find out in a few months, but it would be nice to see actual freedom on the rise and more of a rejection of socialism at large.