Last week, even as the Islamic world was erupting in yet another bout of Koran-fueled fury that put the 2006 explosion over the Danish cartoons in the shade, the Dutch electorate, apparently having decided that the clash of civilizations was yesterday's news, handed Geert Wilders's Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) , or Freedom Party – the only one of the Netherlands's several major parties that is seriously critical of Islam and of the country's current immigration and integration policies – its first setback ever. While the two top parties received about twenty-five percent of the vote apiece, up about five percent from the last election, the PVV got ten percent, down from fifteen. It remains the third largest party, but just barely, with fifteen out of 150 seats in the House of Representatives, while the fourth, fifth, and sixth largest parties will have fifteen, thirteen, and twelve seats respectively.
"For the first time since he founded the PVV in 2004," reported De Volkskrant on Friday, "Geert Wilders lost an election, and substantially so. How can that be?" The newspaper Trouw claimed to have the answer: "The Netherlands of 2012 is radically changed….the protest vote for the PVV has disappeared."
On Saturday, I met Wilders's right-hand man and fellow Member of Parliament, Martin Bosma (48), at a café in Amsterdam, to discuss the election results.