Holland's Anti-EU 'Freedom Party' Boosted As Turkish Tensions Mount
With less than 48 hours until polling begins in the first major European election of the year, Bloomberg reports that snap polls show support for the anti-Islam, euroskeptic Freedom Party of populist Geert Wilders being re-energized after the last few days chaotic events surrounding Turkey.
Just as we warned over the weekend, in the near-term, however, the outstanding question is how will Saturday's events impact Wednesday's Dutch general election, and whether the diplomatic clash will boost votes for Geert Wilders. As Reuters notes, "the diplomatic row comes in the run-up to the coming week's Dutch election in which the mainstream parties are under strong pressure from the far-right party of Geert Wilders."
And this morning, as Bloomberg notes, after politicians on all sides rounded on the Turkish government for dispatching ministers to the Netherlands for domestic political ends on the eve of the Dutch election, Erdogan said on Sunday that the Netherlands would “pay the price” after Rutte’s government denied entry to Turkey’s foreign minister and escorted a second Turkish minister to the Dutch border.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte told NRC on Monday morning, when asked if the chance to play the role of the “strong” prime minister would help him on Wednesday.
“I wasn’t waiting for this... This cost me hours and hours of campaign time. But it’s just my job, being prime minster comes first.”
But as Kees Aarts, professor of political institutions and behavior at the University of Groningen, explains,
While "the cabinet has shown political decisiveness... when you add everything up, what happened will clearly help Wilders. He wasn’t very visible during the campaign and not very involved. But in the end it’s his main theme that’s at stake now."
A snap poll on the incident by Peil.nl found that 86 percent of more than 2,000 respondents said that Rutte had done a good job during the dispute. However, it also found that Freedom Party voters were fired up, with Wilders supporters saying for first time during the campaign they would “certainly” vote for his party, known by its Dutch acronym, PVV. That could lead to higher turnout among PVV supporters at the election on March 15, according to Peil.nl.