(CORRECTS paragraph 11 to show poll released Sunday shows VVD
winning 24 seats, not 26.)
By Toby Sterling
AMSTERDAM Feb 12 Anti-Islam Dutch politician
Geert Wilders said on Sunday that promises by other parties not
to work with him would be quickly forgotten if, as expected, his
far-right Party of Freedom gets more than 30 parliamentary seats
in next month's election.
He then traded barbs on Twitter with Prime Minister Mark
Rutte about who will work with whom after the March 15 vote.
Wilders has proclaimed that Europe is about to enter a
"Patriotic Spring" in which populist parties will triumph in the
Netherlands and France following last year's vote by Britain to
leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as
Freedom leads in most opinion polls, with Rutte's
conservative VVD party in second place. But the VVD and other
Dutch mainstream parties have said they won't enter into a
coalition with Wilders because his platform calls for banning
mosques and the Koran as well as leaving the European Union.
In his first major televised interview ahead of the
election, Wilders said on Sunday that those promises would be
ditched if Freedom gets 30 or more seats in the 150-seat Dutch
Alternative coalitions would prove unworkable and shutting
him out would lead to a popular "revolt," he said.
In response, Rutte tweeted a link to a video clip of himself
categorically ruling out cooperation with Wilders.
"Zero percent (chance) Geert, ZERO percent. It. Is. Not.
Going. To. Happen", he tweeted on his personal account, the
first time it has been used in five years.
The VVD, however, said Rutte's tweet represented both his
personal position and the party line.
Wilders, a prolific user of Twitter, quickly shot back:
"It's the voters who are in charge of this country Mark, for a
HUNDRED percent. And. Nobody. In. The. Netherlands. Still.
Pollster Maurice de Hond said on Sunday his weekly poll
showed Freedom slipping from 32 to 30 seats, with Rutte's VVD
gaining one to 24 seats.
In the interview, Wilders repeated remarks he has made
frequently in the past, offensive to many, comparing the Koran
to Hitler's "Mein Kampf".
A self-avowed admirer of Trump, Wilders said the Netherlands
does not need to build a wall to keep out foreigners but should
re-establish border controls.
In December, Wilders was convicted of insulting Moroccans
and inciting discrimination against them for leading supporters
in chanting they wanted "Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!" of them in the
He is appealing the ruling.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling)