Convicting Geert Wilders of "speaking" seems to have backfired

We talked last week about the disturbing instance of Dutch Freedom Party leader and elected representative Geert Wilders being convicted in court of … talking. Wilders was convicted of “hate speech” for participating in a rally where supporters were chanting about wanting “fewer” Moroccans in the country. At the time, the court didn’t impose any sort of jail term or fine on the politician, saying that, the conviction was punishment enough. While they didn’t provide an explicit description, it was obvious that they felt that being convicted would disgrace Wilders in the eyes of the public and they could punish him sufficiently with their disdain.

Well, according to the next set of polls to come out after the announcement, that plan is just going over like gangbusters. (Yahoo News)

The party of populist anti-Islam Dutch MP Geert Wilders has risen strongly in the polls since the lawmaker was tried and convicted of discrimination, according to a survey published Sunday.

If legislative elections due next March were held this week, Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) would pick up 36 out of 150 seats in the lower house of parliament, making it the biggest single political group, it found.

Before the trial began on October 31, the PVV was credited with 27 seats.

During the trial, but before his conviction on Friday, its estimated share rose to 34 seats. It currently has 12 lawmakers.

The Freedom Party was already making gains in the polls before the trial and it seems to have been a point of belief (or at least optimistic hope) among Wilders’ detractors that the conviction might stall that surge and turn their fortunes around. That obviously doesn’t appear to be the case and in fact may have backfired on them in a big way.

If the number of seats his party controls rises from the modest 12 they now hold up to the high thirties or even forty, a coalition with other similarly inclined parties could quickly evolve into the controlling force in their Parliament. And as the Daily Mail pointed out after the trial, that would position Wilders as the leading choice to be the next Prime Minister. And if that happens, the Dutch government will be taking a very different stance on Islamic immigration.

If elected as the lowlands country’s new prime minister, Wilders has vowed to confiscate Korans, close mosques and Islamic schools, shut Dutch borders and ban migrants from Islamic countries among a raft of other anti-Islamic moves.

His views have seen him receive death threats including from terror groups such as the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda. He is guarded at all times and called the ‘best protected man in The Netherlands’.

The parallels between Wilders and Donald Trump are unavoidable and the European press is running with that narrative on a daily basis. For most of this year the socialists in the Netherlands and the rest of the EU have been warning that putting Wilders in charge would lead to Nexit… the departure of that nation from the union. One thing that the old guard might want to consider is precisely how badly they have misinterpreted the will and sentiments of their own voters. And it’s no longer just a question of whether they want better border security at this point. This apparent revolt against the conviction of the party leader for simply talking about public policy might be signalling a tidal shift in attitude.

Are the Dutch people now interested in having actual Freedom of Speech rather than what’s allowed under socialist constraints? Perhaps there’s a new day on the horizon after all.


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