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Pictures | Tue Mar 14, 2017 | 11:05pm IST

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 Wilders, who wants to "de-Islamicise" the Netherlands, hopes clashes between Turkish-Dutch protesters and the police, along with Ankara's accusations of Dutch "fascism," will help bolster his chances of finishing first.

Wilders, the anti-Islam, anti-EU firebrand, is running almost neck-and-neck with conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The latest Reuters poll of poll puts Rutte's conservative VVD Party top at 16.2 percent, ahead of Wilders' PVV on 13.4 percent. The CDA is close behind at 12.5 percent on a rising trend.

REUTERS/Yves Herman

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

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 Wilders, who wants to "de-Islamicise" the Netherlands, hopes clashes between Turkish-Dutch protesters and the police, along with Ankara's accusations of Dutch "fascism," will help bolster his chances of finishing first. Wilders, the anti-Islam, anti-EU firebrand, is running almost neck-and-neck with conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The latest Reuters poll of poll puts Rutte's conservative VVD Party top at 16.2 percent, ahead of Wilders' PVV on 13.4 percent. The CDA is close behind at 12.5 percent on a rising trend. REUTERS/Yves Herman
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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 March 13 showed a boost of three seats for Rutte's VVD and two for Wilders's PVV in the 150-seat parliament at the expense of smaller parties to the left, said pollster Maurice de Hond.   REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

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, 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 March 13 showed a boost of three seats for Rutte's VVD and two for Wilders's PVV in the 150-seat parliament at the expense of smaller parties to the left, said pollster Maurice de Hond. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo
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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

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

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
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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 parties have ruled out a coalition with a party they view as racist, but a PVV win would nevertheless send shock waves across Europe.

REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

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

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 parties have ruled out a coalition with a party they view as racist, but a PVV win would nevertheless send shock waves across Europe. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
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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 weeks ago he repeated calls for a crackdown on "Moroccan scum".  REUTERS/Michael Kooren

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

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 weeks ago he repeated calls for a crackdown on "Moroccan scum". REUTERS/Michael Kooren
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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 Gogh was killed in 2004, Wilders had just quit the main center-right liberal party over his opposition to Turkey joining the European Union. In February, 2006 he founded his Party for Freedom (PVV), which combined libertarian promises to raise speed limits with harsh anti-Muslim rhetoric.   REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

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

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 Gogh was killed in 2004, Wilders had just quit the main center-right liberal party over his opposition to Turkey joining the European Union. In February, 2006 he founded his Party for Freedom (PVV), which combined libertarian promises to raise speed limits with harsh anti-Muslim rhetoric. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
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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 Catholic Spain, dedicated their new state to religious freedom and offered protection to minorities including Spanish Jews. Wilders says it is precisely that tolerance that is threatened by Islam's "totalitarian ideology". Passionate about the Middle East since he spent time on an Israeli cooperative farm, or kibbutz, as a teenager, he says his opposition to Islam came from contrasting Israel's openness with its neighbors.   REUTERS/Michael Kooren

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

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 Catholic Spain, dedicated their new state to religious freedom and offered protection to minorities including Spanish Jews. Wilders says it is precisely that tolerance that is threatened by Islam's "totalitarian ideology". Passionate about the Middle East since he spent time on an Israeli cooperative farm, or kibbutz, as a teenager, he says his opposition to Islam came from contrasting Israel's openness with its neighbors. REUTERS/Michael Kooren
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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 allowances. Colleagues remember a driven expert with a skilled politician's command of his technical brief, with little time for socializing. His party started in that technocratic tradition, advocating pro-business, Atlanticist neoconservatism. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

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

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 allowances. Colleagues remember a driven expert with a skilled politician's command of his technical brief, with little time for socializing. His party started in that technocratic tradition, advocating pro-business, Atlanticist neoconservatism. REUTERS/Michael Kooren
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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 caring for swelling numbers of elderly people, and whether patients should make a starting contribution to medical treatments on top of mandatory health insurance payments. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

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

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 caring for swelling numbers of elderly people, and whether patients should make a starting contribution to medical treatments on top of mandatory health insurance payments. REUTERS/Michael Kooren
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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

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

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
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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 it's like to cross the road alone," he said in February. "I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. But at least I know why I do what I do. My mission is to make sure the Netherlands, unlike my own life, remains free."  REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

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

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 it's like to cross the road alone," he said in February. "I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. But at least I know why I do what I do. My mission is to make sure the Netherlands, unlike my own life, remains free." REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo
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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 parliamentary bar. Two armed guards stand in front of his office door. Even when he is in Budapest visiting the family of his Hungarian wife, safe houses are kept ready for emergencies.  REUTERS/Robin Utrecht/Pool

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

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 parliamentary bar. Two armed guards stand in front of his office door. Even when he is in Budapest visiting the family of his Hungarian wife, safe houses are kept ready for emergencies. REUTERS/Robin Utrecht/Pool
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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 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 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
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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 Netherlands with him, provoking chants of "Merkel must go!" from the audience of mostly middle-aged and elderly white men. Some waved flags and held banners saying "Stop the Islamization of Europe!".  REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

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 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 Netherlands with him, provoking chants of "Merkel must go!" from the audience of mostly middle-aged and elderly white men. Some waved flags and held banners saying "Stop the Islamization of Europe!". REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
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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 three-minute broadcast, in the second half of which the cartoons scrolled across the screen accompanied by piano music. Wilders and Pamela Geller, one of his American sponsors who organized the Mohammad cartoon drawing competition, were at the event where the shooting took place. Neither of them were hurt.  REUTERS/Michael Kooren

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

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 three-minute broadcast, in the second half of which the cartoons scrolled across the screen accompanied by piano music. Wilders and Pamela Geller, one of his American sponsors who organized the Mohammad cartoon drawing competition, were at the event where the shooting took place. Neither of them were hurt. REUTERS/Michael Kooren
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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

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

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
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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 printing equipment maker Oce, a proud Dutch multinational later sold to Japan's Canon. His mother, a soldier's daughter, was born in Indonesia when that mainly Muslim country was a Dutch colony. He says her parents were Dutch but he had mixed-race Indonesian cousins and that international background influenced his upbringing.  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

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 printing equipment maker Oce, a proud Dutch multinational later sold to Japan's Canon. His mother, a soldier's daughter, was born in Indonesia when that mainly Muslim country was a Dutch colony. He says her parents were Dutch but he had mixed-race Indonesian cousins and that international background influenced his upbringing. REUTERS/Michael Kooren
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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 "isn't prepared to make the changes needed to govern, because of his mental make-up", Bolkestein said. "If we wanted to cut him down to size, the thing would be to give him responsibility. If he ran a large ministry, he'd probably fail." His own brother, Paul, has taken to Twitter and given interviews distancing himself from his policies.  REUTERS/Robin van Lonkhuijsen/United Photos

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

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 "isn't prepared to make the changes needed to govern, because of his mental make-up", Bolkestein said. "If we wanted to cut him down to size, the thing would be to give him responsibility. If he ran a large ministry, he'd probably fail." His own brother, Paul, has taken to Twitter and given interviews distancing himself from his policies. REUTERS/Robin van Lonkhuijsen/United Photos
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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 dice games to relax. "Yahtzee was his favorite," Maracz said. "He always knew how to go all in on a bet, managing to throw a high enough number against the odds."  REUTERS/Michael Kooren

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

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 dice games to relax. "Yahtzee was his favorite," Maracz said. "He always knew how to go all in on a bet, managing to throw a high enough number against the odds." REUTERS/Michael Kooren
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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 Brussels, people took their fate in their own hands," he said. "I think that will happen in Holland, in France, Austria and in Germany."  REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

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

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 Brussels, people took their fate in their own hands," he said. "I think that will happen in Holland, in France, Austria and in Germany." REUTERS/Jerry Lampen
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