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Far-right gunman Geert Wilders wins Dutch election: ‘Dutch Donald Trump’ – Magazine Creations

Controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders has won a huge election victory, positioning him to form the next ruling party and potentially become the next prime minister of the Netherlands.

Wilders, 60, has long been likened to the “Dutch Donald Trump” because of his populist politics. But unlike the former US, he seemed destined for a life in opposition.

An exit poll that revealed his landslide appeared to catch Wilders by surprise.

In his first reaction, which he uploaded on video to X, formerly Twitter, he threw his arms wide, put his face in his hands and simply said “35!” — the number of seats an exit poll predicted his Freedom Party, or PVV, would win in the 150-seat lower house.

Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom, known as PVV, smiles after the announcement of the first preliminary results of the general election in The Hague, Netherlands, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

The only time Wilders came close to governing was when he backed the first coalition formed by Prime Minister Mark Rutte in 2010. But Wilders did not formally join the minority administration and toppled it after just 18 months in power in a dispute over austerity measures. Since then, the mainstream parties have shunned him.

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“The PVV wants, from an imaginary position of 35 seats that can no longer be completely ignored by any party, to cooperate with other parties,” he told cheering supporters at his election celebration in a small bar in a suburb of The Hague.

Wilders’ inflammatory rhetoric against Islam has made him a target for extremists and led to him living under round-the-clock protection for years. He has appeared in court as the victim of death threats, vowing never to shut up. He has moved from one safe house to another for nearly two decades.

Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom, known as PVV, votes while flanked by security agents in The Hague, Netherlands, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)

In 2009, the British government refused to let him visit the country, saying he posed a threat to “communal harmony and therefore public safety”.

To appeal to mainstream voters this time around, Wilders has toned down his rhetoric and tried to focus less on what he calls the “de-Islamization” of the Netherlands and more on tackling practical issues such as housing shortages, a cost-of-living crisis and access to good healthcare. care.

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However, his election platform calls for a referendum on the Netherlands’ exit from the European Union, “an end to asylum” and “no Islamic schools, Korans and mosques”, although he pledged on Wednesday night not to violate Dutch laws or its constitution country that guarantees freedom of religion and expression.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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