Geert Wilders’s PVV is going to run in Rotterdam’s local elections, but messed up with selecting its local leader. The first item is bigger news than you might think. The second item isn’t — it’s typical of the total lack of vetting that characterises the PVV.
First, two pieces of background. On the right wing, until now, the Rotterdam city council was the exclusive domain of Leefbaar Rotterdam, the party founded by the sainted Pim Fortuyn back in 2002. It is the only remnant of Fortuyn’s planned political empire, but it has done well for itself. It kept the number of splits and arguments to a minimim, and in fifteen years has established itself as the main party on the right wing, sucking dry even the VVD. Also, its leaders are sober and sensible, for all that they’re skeptical of immigration and muslims.
Until now, there was a tacit agreement that right-wing Rotterdam voters would vote LR locally, but PVV nationally, and that neither party would venture into the other’s territory.
The second bit of background is the rise of Forum voor Democratie (try to translate that one for yourself). Rather surprisingly, this new right-wing party won two seats in parliament back in March, and it is currently in the process of establishing itself as a regular political party, including members, party congresses, and the lot. Compare this to the PVV, which still has only two members: Geert Wilders and the Geert Wilders Foundation.
Even worse, FvD is now clearly performing better than the PVV. If we look at the polls we see that the PVV won 20 seats in March and is now at 18. The FvD won 2 in March and is now at 11.
A good poll performance for the extreme right parties just after the elections is now a commonplace occurrence. Moderate right-wingers who voted VVD or CDA but are unhappy with the compromises that led to Rutte III (VVD+CDA+D66+CU) cast a virtual protest vote in the polls by supporting something on the extreme right. So far, that always meant Wilders’s PVV. This time around, however, it appears to mean FvD. That stings if you’re Geert Wilders and used to excellent polling.
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A while back, Leefbaar Rotterdam and FvD announced a pact: it seems they’re going to present a common list in the Rotterdam elections. In practice that likely means that both party names will top the list, and that two or three FvD members will be slotted into electable positions on the common list, which otherwise consists of veteran LR politicians.
It seems Wilders has decided to attack this LR/FvD combination. A local PVV list will certainly draw some right-wingers and win a few seats. The question is: how many? LR will certainly not be happy with Wilders right now, but it can hope that its electorate of fifteen years will stay loyal, and that Wilders will have to face a painful defeat.
The PVV getting only two or three seats in a city that has a strong populist right-wing undercurrent would be quite a bad result for Wilders. Combined with his slight loss in the national polls it might make people decide he is the past, and FvD is the future. So let’s keep an eye on Rotterdam. It promises to be an interesting race.
Anyway, yesterday Wilders himself came to Rotterdam to announce the leader of the local PVV, a completely unknown man named Géza Hegedüs. Who? Whatever. Incidentally, Wilders decided to make his announcement in front of a mosque.
Today, the PVV deposed Hegedüs after receiving new information that he, apparently, is a supporter of Holocaust denier David Irving, and that he strives for a Dutch ethno-centric (read: white) state. Why, one might ask, didn’t the PVV vetters find out about this before the announcement instead of after? The answer, most likely, is that the PVV doesn’t have a serious vetting process.
Also, Géza Hegedüs is not a Dutch name; it’s Hungarian. Most likely Hegedüs is a descendant of Hungarians who fled here in 1956 after the Hungarian uprising was crushed by the Soviets. The Netherlands took in quite a few refugees back then. It would be interesting to compare his likely background story with his desire for a closed, refugee-free Dutch state, but we will heroically refrain from doing so.
So that’s the PVV’s position in Rotterdam at the moment.
While we’re discussing Rotterdam, it could be that on the muslim side of the equation something similar is going to happen. The local Rotterdam Nida party is a muslim party, and so is the national DENK, which will also run in the local elections. In Rotterdam, DENK polled excellently back in March by becoming larger than the PvdA. Locally, that might translate to about 3-4 seats in the council. The problem is that Nida is currently occupying these seats. It’s unclear how loyal their voters will be when confronted with a national muslim party.
Yes, the Rotterdam local elections may be the most interesting ones. Most of the country will go to the local polls on 21st of March, 2018. Let’s see what happens.
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This is the political blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer, in Amsterdam. It’s a hobby blog where he follows Dutch politics for the benefit of those twelve foreigners that are interested in such matters, as well as his Dutch readers.
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