Despite the somewhat moderate tone of PVV leader Geert Wilders, former MP Boris van der Ham (D66) fears that Wilders will acquire a position of power after the elections. ‘People often betray their true motives in their reflexes,’ he warns in BNR’s Big Five.
Van der Ham is concerned about the fact that the PVV seems to be becoming increasingly popular in the various polls. ‘The PVV has a number of advantages for voters at the moment, especially on the right. Wilders is one of the little-known faces there. He has been in the House of Representatives for more than twenty years and in politics for much longer.’ Van der Ham therefore thinks that many voters will switch to a well-known face in politics. “We don’t know all those new names, Omtzigt and the lady from the VVD, and we don’t know what they’ll get out of them yet,” they will think. But Wilders has been there for a long time, is known, is funny and was even very engaging on Nieuwsuur. So he can do it, is relaxed and has done it for so long. There are not that many surprises for him,” the former politician sums up.
The former MP also points out that the PVV, apart from the well-known topics, also profiles itself on other topics. ‘Last week I attended the healthcare debate in the Beatrix theater where Fleur Agema of the PVV spoke. She had a very good story about healthcare on a number of points. So they have more points than just Islam, migration and Europe.’ In addition, Wilders now seems to give his points about Islam less priority, as he stated on Nieuwsuur. ‘You can be quite critical about immigration, that it may be a burden on society and whether you should continue with labor migration in this way. In itself there is support for a somewhat firmer policy,” Van der Ham sees, “but of course he often goes too far,” the former MP emphasizes. “He doesn’t want to let anyone in anymore, maybe cancel treaties and maybe even leave the European Union.”
As an atheist and former chairman of the Humanist Association, Van der Ham can also understand criticism of religion. ‘But he goes further by saying that Muslims should not have the same rights. There are a number of issues where Wilders has a point, but where he then chooses a solution that is so radically different from other parties. Also parties that may be critical of these types of topics.’ Van der Ham therefore wonders whether it is a good idea to join a government with the PVV ‘even if the issues are put on hold’.
He also refers to statements by VVD leader Dilan Yeşilgöz, who states that he ‘does not want to exclude voters’ because it would be non-democratic. He states that there is plenty of cooperation with the PVV, ‘even through Denk’, but that cooperation in the form of government is very different. ‘In a government you have to be able to rely on each other for four years, even in an emergency situation.’ Van der Ham is therefore not confident that Wilders’ relatively moderate statements will hold up after the elections. ‘People often reveal their true motives in their reflexes. In certain debates you see that he puts people in the corner quite firmly. That does not reassure me to be in a government, because then you are in the cockpit of society.’
Also read | Omtzigt may want to become prime minister after all
If Wilders and his party become part of a government coalition, he must also take responsibility within Europe and deal with the war in Ukraine, says Van der Ham. ‘Then you want serious people who do not lead the country on the basis of ‘approximate politics’. But he does, because he says we should stop supporting Ukraine. That means that Russia wins and the Russians are at the Polish border.’ With Wilders’ disinterest in the war, Van der Ham fears ‘a war in which NATO will be tampered with’.