Britain’s controversial ban on the anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders has pushed his Freedom Party into the lead for the first time, according to Dutch opinion polls.
Geert Wilders began to see a rise in his popularity after an Amsterdam appeals court decided to try him for anti-Muslim comments in January Photo: EPA
Mr Wilders has benefited from the publicity provided by Dutch and international headlines that followed a decision last month to ban him from showing his anti-Muslim film, Fitna, in the House of Lords.
His attempt to enter Britain, his detention and subsequent deportation, following an order by Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, have made the Dutch MP into a free speech martyr and celebrity in the Netherlands.
New opinion polling now puts Mr Wilders ahead of the Christian Democrats, who lead a coalition government.
“How happy I am about this. These are of course just polls, but it is an enormous sign of confidence from the Dutch voter,” said Mr Wilders.
“As far as I am concerned, elections can be held tomorrow, then I will be the next premier”.
Polling by Maurice de Hond has predicted that the Freedom Party or PVV would take 18 per cent of the vote to win 27 seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament.
This would put Mr Wilders in the position of being a power broker and prime minister in a traditionally complicated Dutch multi-party coalition.
Bans and the threat of prosecution have been the making of Mr Wilders and his Freedom Party.
The Dutch MP, who has compared the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, began to see a rise in his popularity after an Amsterdam appeals court decided to try him for anti-Muslim comments in January.
He then became an international celebrity after he was refused permission to enter Britain on public order grounds in February.
In contrast, the United States last week decided not to ban Mr Wilders after he arrived to show his anti-Muslim film on Capitol Hill at the invitation of the Republican Senator Jon Kyl.
According to the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, only 40 people turned up to see the 15-minute film, which compares Islam to Nazism.