Europe

Netherlands election tests populism in Europe as 'Dutch Trump' causes stir

Raw video: Prime Minister candidate Geert Wilders talks to press in The Hague

 

Dutch voters went to the polls on Wednesday and the whole world was watching.

Mostly because of the man Fox News caught up with as he voted in The Hague. Geert Wilders has caused a stir here with his populist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Islam rhetoric – and for months he was leading in the polls.   

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His nationalist stands are setting the tone for elections in Europe and have echoes of last year’s presidential race in the United States. Fox News asked him if he believes he got a “bump” from Donald Trump’s victory.

“I am not Donald Trump,” he replied. “I am Geert Wilders from the Netherlands.  And I believe what is happening in America can happen all over the world.”

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In recent weeks, Wilders has been sliding a bit in the polls. In the parliamentary election, his Freedom party is now second in the polls behind the party of incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Fox News asked Wilders if some of the “speed bumps” the Trump administration was hitting might be causing a reverse cautionary “Trump effect” among voters here.

“That certainly could be the case,” he admitted. “However, I was active politically long before Mr. Trump took office. So I am not comparing myself to him.”

Dutch voters Fox News spoke with had mixed opinions about Wilders.

One was very enthusiastic, saying Wilders “…says the right things.” Another liked him, with reservations. “Wilders is OK, you need him… but not on top.” 

Another voter just laughed when asked about Wilders. “Terrible!” the voter shouted.

In this brilliantly sunny day in Holland, all voters seemed to agree on one thing: Wednesday’s vote was important, perhaps the most critical one they’d been involved in. High early turn-out estimates seem to back that up. Official results are set to come out next week.

Wilders said no matter what happens – his race is definitely having an impact.

“Whatever the outcome of the elections today,” he said, “the genie will not go back in the bottle. This ‘patriotic revolution,’ either today or tomorrow, will take place anyway.”

With that, Wilders left, trailing a crush of media, security and bewildered Dutch people not used to international ruckus in their pleasant, mostly placid country.

Greg Palkot currently serves as a London-based senior foreign affairs correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 1998 as a correspondent. Follow him on Twitter@GregPalkot.