Discrimination ruling sees anti-Muslim Dutch MP's poll ratings rise
Despite being convicted of discrimination, anti-Muslim Dutch MP Geert Wilders appears to be growing in popularity in his native Netherlands.
According to a survey published by the Maurice de Hond Institute before Wilders’ trial began on October 31, his party the Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) were predicted to win 27 of 150 seats in the lower house of Dutch parliament.
However, on Friday - after Wilders’ conviction had been announced - this figure had risen to 34 seats, which would make the PVV the largest single political group in the Dutch parliament, according to the survey, followed by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Liberals who placed second will 23 seats.
Wilders was found guilty of insulting and inciting discrimination against Moroccans on Friday in a case related to an incident in 2014 when the controversial far-right Dutch MP, in front of television cameras, led chants calling for “fewer” Moroccans in the country during a rally in The Hague.
Wilders faced no official sentence for the ruling and boycotted the trial dismissing its verdict as “madness” and tantamount to a conviction of “half of the Netherlands”.
He has previously called for mosques to be closed, Qurans to be confiscated and for Muslim migrants to be barred from entrance into Holland.
With recent victories for Brexiteers in the UK and Donald Trump in America, and with Marie Le Pen’s National Front also said to be rising in the polls in France, the outcome of the Dutch vote will be closely monitored. They are set to take place in March 2017.
Speaking on Saturday Wilders told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that if elected he would “do some house-cleaning in the Netherlands after the elections” in yet another controversial move likely to anger critics, rights groups, and members of the Netherlands’ Muslim community.
Currently Wilders' PVV hold 12 seats in parliament with polls saying as many as 3 million Dutch voters could back the party in March.
Agencies contributed to this report.