Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders to resume campaign after slide in polls
PUBLISHED Wed, March 01, 2017 - 6:26pm EST
Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, whose party has fallen to second place in opinion polls, announced on Wednesday that he will resume his public campaign after revelations of a leak in his police protection unit. (more)
"We are going back into the country. The voter wants to see us and we want to see the voter!", Wilders said on Wednesday in an emailed statement. "The security risks will be reduced to a minimum. I am very excited!"
The statement added that Wilders' first event would be on Sunday, when he will participate in the creation of an election edition of De Telegraaf newspaper. His first public appearance will be next Wednesday to hand out flyers in the southern city of Breda.
Wilders, who was convicted last year for anti-Moroccan comments, suspended his and his party's public activities after a security officer in his police protection unit was arrested on suspicion of leaking classified information to a Dutch-Moroccan criminal organization.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is seeking a third term as the leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), said during an interview on Monday that security services had found no indication that Wilders' security was ever at risk as a result of the alleged leaks.
The Netherlands will hold parliamentary elections on March 15 and Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) was for a long time the front-runner in public opinion polls. A downwards trend began in early January and has continued ever since, taking the PVV to second place in this week's polling, behind Rutte's VVD.
Wilders has vowed to "de-Islamize" the Netherlands by closing all mosques and Islamic schools, closing the nation's borders, and stopping the inflow of asylum-seekers. Wilders had previously called for a ban on the Quran but he backed off the idea last month, saying instead he would "tolerate" the book.
If he wins the election, Wilders would face significant challenges to form a government. His party is currently projected to win 22 seats in the House of Representatives, but it takes 76 seats to form a government. Rutte - whose VVD party is projected to win 25 seats - has ruled out a coalition government with Wilders, as have many other parties.