Sunday 21 January 2018

Dutch far right blames France's Le Pen for disaster in European vote

Far-right politician Geert Wilders of the anti-immigration Dutch Freedom (PVV) Party speaks at a PVV rally after the European Parliament elections in the Hague
Far-right politician Geert Wilders of the anti-immigration Dutch Freedom (PVV) Party speaks at a PVV rally after the European Parliament elections in the Hague
France's far right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen attends a campaign rally before the European Parliament elections in Marseille

Bruno Waterfield Scheveningen and Henry Samuel in Paris

A disastrous European Union election vote for the Dutch far-right has been blamed on a "toxic" Marine Le Pen of the French Front National.

The result is a blow to Miss Le Pen and will be widely seen as the consequence of her failure to break from the Front National's extremist past, a legacy embodied by her father Jean-Marie who remains an MEP and honorary president of the party.

His close alliance with Miss Le Pen is seen as the key factor in the unexpected defeat of Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV) on Thursday night after Dutch exit polls put him in fourth place behind all the pro-EU Dutch political parties.

As Dutch voters went to the polls, Mr Wilders faced questions over Jean-Marie Le Pen's claim that Ebola, the deadly virus, could solve the world's population explosion and France's immigration problems "in three months", a row that recalled his past convictions for Holocaust denial.

Mr Wilders blamed the setback on the "65 pc" of his Freedom Party's voters who had "stayed at home" amid low Dutch turnout estimated at around 34 pc but admitted "the truth is that the exit polls are disappointing".

Lucas Hartong, the most senior MEP for Mr Wilders' PVV refused to campaign in the EU elections because he warned that the link with the Front National and the Austrian far-right was wrong and would prove to be an electoral disaster.

"I am not at all surprised at the result. I think there will be an internal fight now, people will want to work with Farage and to drop Le Pen," he said.

"These parties have a tendency to anti-Semitism. Most PVV voters want to work with people like Ukip."

Mr Hartong revealed that in 2011 he and his three colleagues in the European Parliament entered into talks with Mr Farage but that the proposal to form an alliance had been personally rejected by Mr Wilders, who now says he would like to work with Ukip in the future.

"It was Wilders who blocked it. My question is why did he want to work with Le Pen and not Farage?" he asked.


Esther Voet, the director of the influential Dutch Information and Documentation on Israel Centre, said that the comments by Mr Le Pen had reminded voters of the Front National's past links to anti-Semitism, a political taboo in the Netherlands.

Amid a French backlash over her father's comments about Ebola on Tuesday, Miss Le Pen insisted the comments had been "distorted" and that he had meant to say that the deadly virus would act as a form of brutal population control.(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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