Poll: Wilders' party biggest in the Netherlands

By Radio Netherlands Worldwide

If elections were held today, the Party for Freedom (PVV) of Dutch populist leader Geert Wilders would become the biggest party in the Netherlands, says one pollster.

Wilders' anti-Islamic platform has given his party an electoral boost, according to a survey by pollster Maurice De Hond.

His Party for Freedom (PVV) would win 27 out of 150 seats in the Dutch parliament, eighteen more than the nine seats it holds today. The Christian Democrats (CDA), the largest party in the current governing coalition, would win only 26 seats, down from 41.

It is not the first time that a Dutch populist opposition party scores high in opinion polls.

In October 2007, a survey carried out by the same pollster predicted a 27-seats-win for another right-wing populist group, Rita Verdonk's nationalist TON party. This would have made TON the second largest party in parliament. Verdonk currently has only one seat in parliament, her own, to which she was elected while still a member of the conservative liberal party VVD. Wilders too is a VVD renegade.

A couple of years earlier, Pim Fortuyn's LPF party scored 28 seats in a poll immediately following his assassination in May 2002. In the general elections of that month, the LPF won 26 seats, which secured its participation in a short-lived coalition government. In subsequent elections Pim Fortuyn's heirs lost all of their seats and the party was eventually disbanded.

Exposure

Wilders' popularity has been rising ever since an Amsterdam appeals court decided to try him for anti-Muslim comments six weeks ago. He has since received even more exposure following Great Britain's refusal to let him enter the country. Wilders had been invited to Britain to show his anti-Koran film Fitna to members of the House of Lords.

Last week, Wilders was in the United States at the invitation of Republican Senator Jon Kyl to show his movie on Capitol Hill and discuss his anti-Islamic policies. In the end, few Congress members found time to talk with the PVV leader. His visit took place on the very day that president Obama gave his first policy speech to Congress.

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