Dutch firebrand politician Geert Wilders
The Dutch will vote on March 15 in an election that was seen as a test of anti-immigrant sentiment even before a rift with Turkey at the weekend put immigration and nationalism at the top of the political agenda. Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert...more
Wilders, a eurosceptic, anti-immigration fan of U.S. President Trump, has dubbed the March 15 parliamentary election the start of a "Patriotic Spring" in Europe, where French and German voters go to the polls in May and September. A snap poll on...more
Wilders, 53, wants to halt Muslim immigration, close all mosques and ban the Koran, which he compares to Adolf Hitler's tract Mein Kampf. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
With a flare for the limelight - Wilders wears his hair in an instantly recognizable platinum bleached-blond quiff. Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) has virtually no chance of forming a government, given the splintered political landscape. Other...more
Other parties have ruled out a coalition with Wilders, which is likely to keep him out of government, especially since he was convicted in December of inciting discrimination for leading a crowd in a chat for "Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!" Moroccans. Three...more
Though often compared to outsiders like French nationalist Marine Le Pen, Britain's anti-European Union campaigner Nigel Farage or U.S. President Donald Trump, Wilders emerged from within mainstream Dutch politics. When Dutch film director Theo Van...more
Most Dutch see openness and religious tolerance as essential national traits of their cosmopolitan seafaring country. Holland has served as a European haven for refugees since the 16th century, when the mainly Protestant Dutch broke away from...more
When Wilders entered politics in 1990 without a university degree after a stint working for a health insurer, it was as a social policy specialist, advising the liberals on ways to cut back on the Netherlands' then very generous out-of-work...more
Anxious to dent Wilders' appeal, all main parties now call for cuts to immigration, especially of economic migrants. But they are at odds over social policy in an era of budget restraint, including the retirement age, how much should be spent on...more
Since the evening in 2004 when policemen arrived unannounced to escort him and his wife to safety, Wilders has lived in safe houses under 24-hour guard to protect him from Islamist militants who threatened to kill him. REUTERS/Koen van Weel/Pool
Nearly 13 years under protective seclusion have only strengthened Wilders' convictions. He is on Taliban and al Qaeda hit lists, and blames Islam for the long confinement that ended his life as a cosmopolitan globetrotter. "I can hardly remember what...more
Over the years of Wilders' isolation, anti-Islamism usurped most of that agenda. Under his security regimen, his entire party sits in a secured corridor in parliament, isolated from easy contact with other lawmakers, forbidden from visiting the...more
Wilders was acquitted of inciting hatred of Muslims in a 2011 court ruling, and in 2016 was convicted of discrimination against Moroccans but received no punishment. REUTERS/Evert Elzinga/Pool
Wilders tried to boost the German anti-Islam movement PEGIDA with a 2015 speech that mocked Chancellor Angela Merkel for saying Muslims "belong to Germany", but the demonstration failed to draw huge crowds. Wilders offered to take Merkel back to the...more
Wilders in 2015 aired cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on Dutch television that were drawn at a cartoon competition in Texas that was attacked by two gunmen. Wilders, in a broadcast coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, introduced the...more
A day after the U.S. election, Wilders hailed Trump's win: "Yesterday, a free America, today Koblenz, and tomorrow a new Europe," adding, "The genie will not go back into the bottle." REUTERS/Michael Kooren
Wilders grew up as the youngest child of a family in predominantly Catholic Limburg, a south-eastern prong of the Netherlands that juts out into the borderlands between Belgium and Germany, an ancient crossroads. His father was a middle manager for...more
Despite polling around 13.4 percent, enough for the PVV to emerge as the second-biggest party after the election, Wilders has the wrong mentality to enter government, said Frits Bolkestein, who led the liberals when Wilders worked there on policy. He...more
Wilders was personable in the years before his confinement, remembers Laszlo Maracz, a Dutch-Hungarian academic who helped him write a report in the 1990s on the rights of ethnic Hungarian minorities in eastern Europe. He liked to play high-stakes...more
A win for Wilders would boost French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and the Alternative for Germany party, both hoping to transform European politics in elections this year. "Despite all the hate and fear-mongering of the elite both in Britain and...more
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