A controversial anti-Islam party is surging in the polls in Holland, registering its highest score ever in survey data released Sunday.
The Freedom Party (PVV), led by right-winger Geert Wilders, who has denounced Islam as a “fascist” ideology, took 42 seats in a poll of voting intention conducted by Peil.nl. This represents a week-on-week increase of one seat and is 27 seats more than the party won in the country’s 2012 general election.
Holland’s governing People’s Party-Labour Party (VVD-PvdA) coalition scored 27 seats in the poll, compared to the 79 they took in the last election. The next election will be held in spring 2017, at the latest.
While the research cautions that this success will not necessarily be replicated in an actual election, the PVV has enjoyed consistently strong leads in a range of recent polls.
Wilders has capitalized on a rise in anti-immigrant feeling across Europe stoked by sex attacks allegedly committed in part by migrants and refugees on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Germany. In January, Wilders held a rally in the Dutch town of Spijkenisse where he handed out fake pepper spray to women while warning of an influx of what he called “Islamic testosterone bombs.”
The far-right populist has been a household name in the Netherlands since 2004, when he split from VVD to carve out his own anti-Islam platform. His book, Marked for Death, Islam’s War On The West And Me, was published in 2012.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the center-right VVD prime minister Mark Rutte said that Europe has just six-to- eight weeks to find better ways of coping with the current influx of migrants if it is to avert serious political damage.