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Spruyt, Bart Jan

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De Volkskrant - Netherlands | 26/02/2009

Geert Wilders achieves an aura of respectability

Current polls show Geert Wilders' right-wing populist Party for Freedom (PVV) to be the second strongest political force in the Netherlands. Historian Bart Jan Spruyt writes in the left-liberal daily De Volkskrant that the country's educated elite is excessively lenient on Wilders: "They have remained silent and looked the other way while Wilders has adopted increasingly radical positions to make himself heard. He has dominated the entire political debate on Islam, immigration and multiculturalism to such a degree that further discussion is almost impossible. ... And once again, as Wilders abuses this topic solely for his own benefit, our elites have failed to react. This cowardice is contemptible, and will take its toll. ... The centre, the three large constituent parties of the Dutch political tradition, have buckled under and failed."

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