Der Spiegel talks to Paul Wilders, the brother of far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Paul reveals that his brother was a centrist at the beginning of his political career, but veered to the right due to his increasing hostility towards Islam. He also suggests that a “thirst for power” motivate his brother as much as Islamophobia. You can read an excerpt from the interview below. Dutch general elections are scheduled for March 15, and Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom is currently running neck and neck with the party of the incumbent prime minister, Mark Rutte.
SPIEGEL: And yet he is surprisingly popular among the Dutch.
Wilders: He is a master of short messages. And in this complex age, that is precisely what many people want: a simple political vision without any nuance. Geert gives them that. He creates an identity: We, the Dutch people. And he also creates opposite poles: Muslims, the European Union, the elites. Terrorist attacks, refugees and the euro crisis engender fear and dissatisfaction. My brother, French populist Marine Le Pen and others take advantage of this mood and offer seemingly simple solutions: out with the migrants, close the borders, exit the EU. But our problems are far more complex. Geert peddles illusions to people.
SPIEGEL: What do you mean?
Wilders: For instance, in his campaign platform he pledges to close the mosques and ban the Koran. How is this supposed to work, from a practical standpoint? It violates our constitution, which means it would have to be approved by both chambers of parliament with a large majority. Given our political landscape, with its many parties, he’ll never succeed. To become prime minister, Geert would need several coalition partners, or he would need the support of several parties in a minority government. He would have to make compromises and break campaign promises.
SPIEGEL: Does your brother really believe what he preaches, or is it all just show?
Wilders: He is a staunch opponent of Islam. But there is, of course, plenty of strategy and thirst for power in the mix. Geert doesn’t have much left in life besides politics. His fortunes hinge on his political success.
Image via Der Spiegel.