Smear campaigns are currently going on against Nigel Farage and Geert Wilders, Europe's two most outspoken defendants of national sovereignty. The reason is obvious: the upcoming elections for the European Parliament on May 22nd and May 25th. In these elections, the citizens of the 28 member states of the European Union [EU] will decide whether or not they want to see their nation-states evaporate into a sort of United States of Europe ruled by the unelected, unaccountable and untransparent EU bureaucracy in Brussels.
The European political elite is trying to transform the EU, which started in 1957 as a vehicle for free trade and economic cooperation, into one Union to rule them all – a genuine pan-European state. This transformation process has been going on for decades, despite the clear opposition in many ancient European nations, whose people refuse to be reduced to provinces of a supra-national superstate.
Early last week, opinion polls in Austria, France, Denmark, Britain, the Netherlands and other countries, reaffirmed that parties opposing the EU project are set to become the biggest winners in May. However, while many of these parties want a less ambitious EU, two parties in particular – the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in Britain and the Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands – advocate a downright exit of their respective nations from the EU. UKIP and the PVV are convinced that the very nature of the EU is flawed. Indeed, according to its 1957 preamble, the EU's purpose is the forging of "an ever closer union" between its member states.
In his speech at UKIP's party conference, last February 28th, Nigel Farage called his party "the patriotic fightback" and emphasized the importance of the coming elections. "This is it, this is the big one for UKIP," he said. With a predicted 30% of the votes, UKIP would become Britain's largest party, defeating Labour with 28% and the governing Conservatives with 21%. Farage warned his supporters, however, that the entire establishment, the major political parties, the media, the trade unions, and even some big banks and multinationals, will try to do everything to prevent UKIP from winning.
And, indeed, barely two weeks after his speech, the British media were depicting Mr. Farage as an entirely untrustworthy fellow. It was alleged that he had an extramarital affair with his spokeswoman. These malicious stories, though spread by the woman who had earlier been passed over for the very job of UKIP spokesperson, were eagerly printed by the media. Some papers pontificated that Farage's love life would be his undoing at May's Euro elections.
In other stories, UKIP was described as a "freak show," its headquarters in London as a "zoo" where people bring animals into the office, take their clothes off and have sex on their minds instead of politics. The smear campaign was successful to the effect that it forced Farage's spokeswoman, in an attempt "to get her life back," to quit her job in the middle of UKIP's most important electoral campaign ever. The smear campaign, however, disgusted The Guardian, a leftist newspaper otherwise fiercely critical of UKIP, so much that it wrote: "You don't have to be a fan of Nigel Farage to object to this style of politics. It's personal, lowest common denominator, play-the-man-not-the-ball nonsense."
The anti-Farage smear campaign, however, is nothing compared with the smear campaign currently going on against PVV leader Geert Wilders in The Netherlands. At first this campaign was strikingly similar to the one against Farage, with stories of an alleged affair of Wilders with his pretty former press secretary. It turned nastier early last week when a video clip was released of a Dutch rapper of Moroccan origin, showing a Wilders lookalike being abducted by armed men, forced to kneel before an al-Qaeda flag and being executed. Mr. Wilders, who is at the top of an al-Qaeda hit list for his criticism of Islam, has been living under constant police protection for almost ten years.
But the dirt really hit the fan last Wednesday after a PVV rally for the Dutch municipal elections in The Hague, where Wilders said that he wanted "fewer Moroccans." In The Hague, as in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, non-Western immigrants – mostly Moroccans – already make up over one-third of the population, and almost half of the population under 21 years of age. Moreover, Moroccan criminality is a huge problem in the Netherlands.
Moroccans top the Dutch crime statistics. They are 5 times more involved in vandalism, 6 times more in violence, and 22 times more in robbery than indigenous Dutch. Two years ago, Diederik Samsom, leader of the governing Labour Party, said that Moroccans have an "ethnic monopoly on trouble" in the Netherlands. They are also overrepresented among those who live on welfare benefits. As the cost to the Dutch taxpayer of accommodating the number of Moroccans is enormous, the PVV has proposed to reduce these numbers by adopting three measures. First, stopping all immigration from Islamic countries. Second, promoting voluntary repatriation. And third, depriving criminals with dual nationality of their Dutch nationality and sending them back to the country of their other nationality.
These proposals have been on the PVV party platform for years, but led to an outburst of indignation when Wilders asked his followers three questions at Wednesday's party. He asked them whether they wanted to have less or more Brussels, less or more Labour Party and fewer or more Moroccans.
Media outlets at once compared Wilders to Nazi leaders such as Hitler and Goebbels. Schools began to issue guidelines to instruct pupils on how to deal with Wilders. His political opponents, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten demanded that Wilders retract his statements or face serious political and judicial consequences. They called on those who felt "insulted" by Wilders to press criminal charges of discrimination against him. The police have facilitated such complaints by providing pre-filled "Wilders forms" and offering to come to people's homes if they intend to press criminal charges, rather than having them come to the police station, as is the normal procedure. The aim clearly is to bog the politician Wilders down in costly court cases for weeks and months, perhaps even years, to come.
People who attended Wilders's rally have received threats and local PVV politicians supporting their party leader also had charges pressed against them. The pressure against other PVV politicians and their families has led to the departure of two of the 14 PVV parliamentarians, one of the four PVV members of the European Parliament, and several provincial and municipal councilors.
Last Saturday, 5,000 people demonstrated against Wilders in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam mayor, a member of the Labour Party, led the demonstrators who shouted: "We are all Moroccans." Some of the demonstrators were carrying the black al-Qaida flag. Others carried slogans such as "Wilders hond van Israel", which literally means "Wilders dog of Israel." Calling someone a dog is an Islamic insult.
On Sunday morning, Dutch state television broadcasted a church service against Wilders. An opinion poll released on Sunday, showed that the affair has cost Wilders his leading position in the polls. The biggest Dutch party is now the Liberal Democratic Party, which is fervently pro-EU. A sigh of relief can be heard in Brussels.