Rutte Blocks Future Cooperation With Wilders on Rally Chants
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said future cooperation with Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party at the national level is impossible as long Wilders stands behind comments at an election rally that involved anti-Moroccan chants.
“He did cross yet another limit,” Rutte told reporters after European leaders met in Brussels to discuss the Ukraine crisis. “It is clear that as long as these points are the party line, there will be no cooperation possible,” Rutte said. Rutte’s first government was backed by Wilders until it collapsed over a disagreement on austerity measures in April 2012.
Wilders is facing several legal complaints accusing him of discrimination after he presided over an election rally that involved anti-Moroccan chants. More than 100 complaints have been filed with the Dutch public prosecutor, according to a statement on the prosecutor’s website yesterday. The different claims will be studied along with Wilders’s remarks before a decision is made as the issue is complex and requires care, the prosecutor’s office said.
During the televised rally March 19 in The Hague, one of the two cities where Wilders participated in municipal elections that day, he asked a crowd of supporters: “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in this city?” The crowd responded by chanting “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!” after which Wilders said: “I’ll take care of that.”
The Association for Dutch Moroccans filed charges of discrimination against Wilders yesterday, according to a statement on the group’s website. Roland van Vliet, one of Wilders’s representatives in parliament, decided to leave the party yesterday after the remarks, according to news agency ANP, citing a letter from Van Vliet.
Wilders didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment and no one answered the telephone at the Freedom Party’s press office.
Wilders, who campaigned on a platform of euro skepticism and anti-Islam, gained in the municipal elections, and polls indicate his party could become the largest Dutch party in the European Parliament in Brussels after May elections.
To contact the reporter on this story: Fred Pals in Amsterdam at firstname.lastname@example.org