By Anneroos van Eijk
This coming March the presidential elections in the Netherlands will take place. In the Netherlands, we have our own Trump. He is called Geert Wilders. After the result of the election in the United States, a lot of the people in Holland were shocked. Because the possibility that Wilders will win the elections, suddenly has become very real. And once we live in a populist culture, it will be very hard to go back to the way things were.
The reactions of people after the US result in my surroundings were: “Now we just sit and wait till World War III”, “I will emigrate if Wilders will be the president of the Netherlands” and “What if we survive these four years with Trump, but how are we going to build up the world after that?” People are scared and worried that the rising populism will also make its mark on the Netherlands.
Geert Wilders is the party leader of the PVV (Party for Freedom). He is the only one who is a member of this party. He is known for his criticism at the Islam, the European Union and immigration. Just like Trump, he is a populist. He knows what to say to get to the people. The last years his party earned a lot of support from people in the Netherlands. They aren’t happy with the immigrants from, for example, Syria. Wilders responded to this with saying that we must close the boarders. Many people liked this idea.
There are also a lot of people who don’t like his ideas and are scared that because of, for example, the still ongoing crisis in Syria and migrants, more people will vote for Wilders. With Putin, Erdogan and now Trump, this would lead to a world where people don’t respect or tolerate each other.
The last few decades, things have changed completely. People felt comfortable showing others who they really are. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, lesbian, transgender, Muslim or ‘different’ in another way. We learned to respect each other and to accept that the most important thing is that people can be who they really want to be. With populist leaders as Trump, this will change. Maybe not in four years, but it will in the coming decades.
The mind-set of people will change and it will become normal to discriminate people. Freedom of speech will become a way to say what you want, without considering if you could hurt someone else. It will become a world where people will be more and more individualistic, because we will only think about ourselves. And once we are there, it will be really hard to go back to the way things were.