Dutch Christians divided over populist election victory

24-11-2023

Western Europe

CNE.news

Voters saw Wilders change to a more moderate tone. Photo ANP

Dutch Christians are divided over Geert Wilders’ election win. “It is a mirror of the country we live in.”

The Netherlands is an introverted country that votes en masse for a nationalist who declares refugees and people with a migration background second-class citizens and unwanted guests. With that conclusion, the Christian Nederlands Dagblad concluded its commentary on Wednesday in response to Geert Wilders’Wilders’ PVV party win in the Dutch parliamentary elections.

The right-wing populist politician –nicknamed the ‘‘Dutch Trump"– surprisingly won with a large majority of votes. Where in previous years the party finished second or third, now they rose to great heights with 37 seats. The left-wing GroenLinks-PvdA combination came second, with 25 seats. The 60-year-old Wilders has been known for years for his anti-Islam views and harsh words on the European Union and immigration.

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Wilders responds to the election results. Photo ANP, Remko de Waal

Christian media are reacting critically to the election results. The Nederlands Dagblad speaks of a Wilders “who for years has called democratically elected colleagues traitors and a fake parliament. Who called the rule of law ‘‘corrupt’’, following his prosecution and conviction for group insult.” According to the Christian daily, it is “in the best religious tradition of ‘‘us Dutch’’ to hold a day of fasting and humility.”

Another Christian newspaper, the Reformatorisch Dagblad, agrees with the critics. According to the newspaper, Wilders “likes to talk about the Judeo-Christian roots of this country, but in his case, no fruits of charity, humility, justice and stewardship grow from them.” But the newspaper also points out something else: “It is fair to say that those Christian roots and their fruits are also scarce among Wilders’ political counterparts. That is precisely why this election result is so sad: it is a mirror of the country we live in”, the newspaper wrote, referring to the electoral loss of Christian parties in the election.

Surprise

Yet not all Christians are negative about the PVV’s election win. Evangelist Daniël van Deutekom voted for the PVV “to my great surprise”, he tells the Nederlands Dagblad. “There is massive denial that we are losing something in the Netherlands because we have opened the borders: come in with your ideals. (...) We have loved the foreigner more than ourselves, while it is better to start from yourself. From there, you can help the world. That is what Wilders stands for, and that is why I chose him. I will pray for him.”

Anne-Marije Schouten-Stasse, a nursing student, states that she disagrees with Wilders on his Islam views. “But I saw during the past debates how the party and Wilders himself really hit a moderate tone. I think that was not acted because he, too, knows that in a coalition government, you cannot push through your entire programme. I believe his promise that he will be prime minister ‘‘for all Dutch people’’.

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