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Wilders and Erdogan may be the winners of Turkey-Netherlands Tension

By Ebru Aksay

The Dutch election was upended by a diplomatic standoff with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who is increasing the violence rhetoric as the referendum gets closer. According to Bloomberg’s Corina Ruhe and Ellen Proper, less than 48 hours before the first major election of the year in Europa, political analysts said that this international event on Netherlands borders  would benefit to both liberals of Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the populist Geert Wilders’s anti-Islamic Freedom Party(PVV).

Politicians on all sides rounded on the Turkish government for dispatching ministers to the Netherlands for domestic political ends on the eve of the Dutch election. Erdogan said on Sunday that the Netherlands would “pay the price” after Rutte’s government denied entry to Turkey’s foreign minister and escorted a second Turkish minister to the Dutch border.

“I wasn’t waiting for this,” Rutte told NRC on Monday morning, when asked if the chance to play the role of the “strong” prime minister would help him on Wednesday. “This cost me hours and hours of campaign time. But it’s just my job, being prime minster comes first.”

However, it also found that Freedom Party voters were fired up, with Wilders supporters saying for first time during the campaign they would “certainly” vote for his party, known PVV. That could lead to higher turnout among PVV supporters at the election on March 15.

Rutte stands to benefit “because he acted firmly to defend the Netherlands in an international conflict,” said Sarah de Lange, a professor at the University of Amsterdam. “Wilders could benefit because this incident strengthens the image that Turks are not integrated and show more loyalty towards Turkey than to the Netherlands. This could give him more support for his claims about Islam and sending people back to their own country.”

Only Rutte and Wilders will have their first debate of the campaign on Monday evening and so-called ‘prime ministers’ debate’

What About on Turkish Side?

Erdoğan  wants to accumulate even power with the referendum to be held on April 16. A few days ago he accused Germany where about 3 million of Turkish people live in, to be ‘Nazi remains’ due to Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu and Economy Minister Zeybekçi were prevented to hold rallies in Germany.

On the other hand, on live broadcast panel on ‘A Haber’, AKP İzmir Deputy and close ally of Mr. Erdogan, Mr. Hüseyin Kocabıyık said ‘Let’s not be angry at Germany and Holland. May be we should thank them a little bit. They contributed at least two points to ‘Yes’ votes. You can be sure of that. As a former research and adviser I say this to you confidently. Both in Europe as well as those ”no” voters within Turkey will rethink after these events!’

Even though Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on March 6th that his party would not hold elections rallies in Holland until March 14th when Dutch will have their own elections, that decision was suddenly changed. First FM Çavuşoğlu, then Family Affairs Minister Kaya were sent to Holland to hold election rallies though Ms. Kaya was deported and declared ”persona non-grata.”

Somebody in higher echelons of the party must have thought to send those ministers last weekend, before the elections in Holland for some reasons.


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