Will Wilders Win?

The Dutch go to the polls.

Here's one perverse consequence of Europe's insane immigration policies: international election campaigns. Case in point: there are now so many Pakistanis who hold Norwegian citizenship (and collect Norwegian benefits) but who spend most of their time in Pakistan (where they can live like kings on those benefits) that Norwegian politicians now routinely travel to Pakistan – this is not a joke – to campaign in a part of the country that has come to be known as “Little Norway.” But it works the other way, too. So many Turks live in the Netherlands that President Tayyip Ergodan, in advance of a forthcoming referendum on expanding his powers, sent some of his flunkies to Rotterdam the other day to court votes. To the surprise of many, however, the normally docile Dutch government pushed back: it banned a scheduled pro-Erdogan rally, expelled one Turkish cabinet minister, and denied entry to another. 

It was a small but cheering action. For too long, European elites have viewed their own countries as “humanitarian superpowers” (yes, seriously) whose mission is to give a leg-up to the downtrodden of the Muslim world. The elites in the Muslim world, however, regard European nations as colonies in the making, whose treasuries are annually drained of colossal sums in welfare handouts that end up juicing up Muslim economies, and whose leaders are docile, appeasing patsies who dare not breathe a negative word about anything Islamic.

The Dutch government's response to Erdogan, then, marked a major departure from standard practice. It was a shocker, in fact, and perhaps a game-changer. Erdogan, accustomed to European bowing and scraping, clearly wasn't prepared for it. He went ballistic, comparing the Dutch to the Nazis and blaming them for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which Serb units murdered 8,000 Muslims while Dutch UN peacekeepers stood passively by. Turks in Rotterdam went ballistic too, holding massive riots that drew participants from as far away as Germany. Dutch authorities declared a state of emergency. 

Ergodan's slam at the Dutch will probably boost his support among his own people. But what impact will this imbroglio have on today's Dutch elections? The Netherlands, which despite its small size has an extraordinary number of parties represented in its parliament, is currently governed by the center-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) in coalition with the social-democratic Labor Party (PvdA). But a great deal has changed since the last elections, which took place in 2012. The PvdA, which won 38 percent of the vote in 2012, is now down to around 10 percent in polls. The VVD, which received four out of ten votes in 2012, now stands to earn only one in four.

The other key player here, of course, is Geert Wilders's Party for Freedom (PVV), which, after getting 15 percent of the vote in 2012 (making it the fifth largest party in parliament), is now more or less tied in the polls with the VVD. Wilders owes this boost in popularity mostly to concern about Muslim immigration – a concern that has spiked in the wake of the so-called Syrian refugee crisis and the recent terrorist atrocities in Paris, Nice, Munich, Brussels, and elsewhere. Of all the parties, only PVV has promise radical action to undo the disastrous changes inflicted upon the Dutch people by their leaders' preposterous immigration policies. 

Those policies have been in place for decades – and for most of that time have been quietly if uncomfortably accepted, by most Dutchmen, who, while inclined to be combative about politics in pub conversations, are not the type to take to the streets to dispute their leaders' wisdom. But more and more Dutch voters who until recently remained on the fence – clinging, perhaps, to the hope that Muslims would eventually assimilate, that their wives and daughters would eventually be liberated from hijabs, and that their sons would eventually stop committing rapes and other felonies – have given up hope. They may once have strongly supported the idea of helping out poor people from elsewhere, but they balk at the fact that those newcomers are routinely given preferential treatment in housing and other sectors, that they prefer collecting welfare benefits to working, and that, despite having come to the Netherlands (in many cases) as refugees, they regularly return to the countries from which they “fled,” where many of them have used Dutch taxpayers' money to build palatial homes and support their extra wives in lavish style. 

Many Dutch people have also come to recognize that many of their neighbors from Turkey, Morocco, and elsewhere don't view them as kindly patrons and protectors but as inferiors who, by giving them handouts, are only fulfilling the obligation imposed upon infidels by the Koran to pay jizya to their Muslim betters. I would imagine that for some Dutchmen who have hesitated all these years to align themselves with Wilders because of his combative rhetoric, the riots in Rotterdam may be a last straw, a wake-up call – a vivid, unignorable demonstration of the contempt in which many Muslims in the Netherlands hold their benefactors. 

Prime Minister Mark Rutte, of the VVD, has sought to fend off Wilders's challenge by talking tough – or, at least, tougher than usual – on immigration. But through most of the campaign, that tough talk hasn't worked: voters, quite simply, know that Wilders means it and Rutte doesn't. So the events of recent days may well work to Wilders's advantage. Then again, the breathtaking way in which Rutte's government shot down Erdogan's effort to campaign in the Netherlands may be just what it takes for him to hold on to power. Those voters who are fed up with their country's Islamization but who are made uneasy by Wilders's strident, Trump-like style (which violates a long tradition of Dutch government by meek, colorless technocrats) may well grab on to Rutte's last-minute gutsy move as a reason to give him another chance.