Meet Geert Wilders, the “Dutch Donald Trump”

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He is running on a nationalist, anti-Islam platform. Yet his mother’s family is from Indonesia, the largest Muslim country on the planet. He fashions himself a political outsider. Yet he has spent his entire career in politics. Meet Geert Wilders: the 53-year-old paradox vying to be the next prime minister of the Netherlands.

Wilders has been called the “Dutch Donald Trump.” For one, his hair, dyed blonde and coiffed, is central to his image. But it goes a bit deeper: he has proposed banning the Quran. He would like to see all mosques in the Netherlands shuttered. And, like his populist peers in the rest of Europe, has promised a “Nexit” (a referendum vote for the Netherlands to exit the European Union) if he wins the March 15 election.

At a political rally three years ago, Wilders led an exchange that underscores his anti-Islam, and anti-immigrant views. “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in this country?” he asked the crowd, which replied: “Fewer, fewer, fewer!” Wilders, then a member of parliament, smiled and said: “Well I’ll arrange for that then.”

There are a few qualities that distance Wilders from the popular perception of other far-right political candidates in Europe. He supports gay marriage. He supports drug legalization and legalized prostitution. And his supporters see him as a protector, not an opponent, of the Netherlands’ liberal ethos, unlike France’s Marine Le Pen and the nationalist candidates in Germany. In Wilders’s world, Islam is the enemy of liberal values, not of orthodox conservative values or values steeped in Christianity.

By most accounts, his extreme stance against Islam began in 2004. Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh made a film that was critical of Islam. Soon after its release, Van Gogh was killed by a Muslim extremist. This ignited millions of people to take to the streets in the name of free speech. Wilders, a member of parliament at the time, was a vocal opponent of Muslim immigration to the Netherlands. Dutch officials discovered plots to take his life, and Wilders has been living a reclusive lifestyle ever since.

He lives in a safe house. His office at the Dutch parliament is on a different floor than his fellow MPs, and is heavily guarded. He has rarely made public appearances in the weeks and months leading up to the March 15 election. And as befits a man often compared to Trump, Wilders uses Twitter to directly communicate with his followers.

His message is resonating with a large swath of Dutch voters; his Party for Freedom is leading most national polls. But the Dutch governing system is ruled by a coalition of parties–usually four or five–with a prime minister usually, but not always, coming from the party with the most seats in parliament. Other party leaders, including current Prime Minister Mark Rutte, have said they will not govern with Wilders at the helm. Whether or not he becomes the prime minister, Wilders has surely nudged the government to the right, and his message will influence the future leader.

During a recent interview, Wilders summed up his governing philosophy: “I’m a patriot, and I believe there’s a ‘Patriotic Spring’ going on in the world today, in the Western world,” he said. “Donald Trump did the job in America, and I hope that here in Europe, we will see a patriotic spring in Holland but also in Germany, France — many other countries where parties like mine are getting stronger every day.”

Alec Siegel
Alec Siegel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. When he’s not working at Law Street he’s either cooking a mediocre tofu dish or enjoying a run in the woods. His passions include: gooey chocolate chips, black coffee, mountains, the Animal Kingdom in general, and John Lennon. Baklava is his achilles heel. Contact Alec at



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