NST Leader: Wilders' Dutch treat

GEERT Wilders, who won the Nov 22 election, is posing as much a problem for Europe as Tel Aviv is doing for the Middle East.

Extremists never make good leaders, for their countries, regions or the world. If Wilders of the Party for Freedom does manage to become prime minister, the Netherlands, Europe and the world will taste the tragedy of extremism, first at home then elsewhere as the ripple of misfortune manifests itself.

Like Britain, Wilders wants the Netherlands out of the European Union, one of the pledges he campaigned on. Borrowing heavily from the misguided British politics of Boris Johnson, Wilders, like the insular British guru of his, falsely thinks migration is the cause of poverty.

Neither he nor the Dutch who voted for him failed to learn the terrible lesson of post-Brexit Britain, where poverty persists almost three years after its withdrawal from the European Union. Political pragmatism may see to it that Wilders' withdrawal symptoms remain just that.

Like Britain again, he wants to close the borders to migration. If "Nexit" doesn't succeed, insularity will. As Britain and other nations have proven, migration doesn't cause poverty, but poor leadership does.

But Wilders has too much hatred for the other in him to realise this. Hate blinds. Extremism is a disability, especially in a politician. Even more so in one who is likely to be prime minister. Some believe pragmatic politics may tame him, but pragmatism can only do so much. A leopard will be hard put to let go of its spots.

Wilders is bad news in many ways. Three will suffice. One, he hates Muslims. There is no dispute about this. His campaign pledges are proof of this. How can Wilders say he is a prime minister of all when he hates five per cent of the Dutch population, or about 900,000 Muslims?

Two, should he become prime minister — a likelihood given his party's 37 seats in the 150-seat legislature — he will find it hard to navigate his way around the world where a quarter of humanity are Muslims. Conducting diplomacy in a world of 52 Muslim nations will be a huge challenge.

Europe doesn't need a Donald Trump, our third point. The Netherlands certainly doesn't. Wilders, like Trump, is a xenophobe who is quick to exploit people's insecurity.

Wilders, like Trump, is also willing to do things unconstitutional. Look at how Trump has endangered the American constitution. If that is not enough, he is promising to return to finish off where he left off.

Likewise, Wilders is endangering Holland's constitution by denying a section of its citizens the freedom to practise their religion. Given this highest legal guarantee, it is a wonder how he was allowed to campaign "a nakedly Islamophobic manifesto", to borrow the words of The Guardian.

There is more bad news for Holland under the premiership of Wilders. No asylum claims, no laws on climate change, a referendum on "Nexit" and some such radical right threats. We can only hope that right-thinking Dutch political parties will keep him out of the highest office in the country.

But hope isn't the best medicine. Politics of inclusivity is. It is really hard for a country to get ahead when a brand of its politics chooses to leave millions of its people behind.

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