US Far-Right Doles Out Campaign Funding to European Counterparts

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Geert Wilders and Donald Trump: both have bad hair and bad politics.
(Geert Wilders, left, helped create the modern playbook on far-right populism that has grown in the US under Trump)

Geert Wilders, the far-right Dutch politician, has made a name for himself through his relentless bigotry, scapegoating, and fervent nativism. Part of the increasingly popular (and electorally viable) extreme right in Europe, Wilders received a conviction for incitement against a minority when he egged on a crowd during a public speech, leading them to shout that they wanted fewer Muslims in the Netherlands.

As the crowds yelled “fewer!” Wilders responded, “we’re going to take care of that.”

Wilders and his fellow travelers throughout Europe – including Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front – created the modern play book for nationalist populism that Trump deployed as he steamrolled his way through basic political decency to the White House.

And – now – it appears as if the newly emboldened far-right in the United States (exemplified by the propaganda outlet Breitbart and the rise of “alternative facts”) is throwing its weight behind nationalists in Europe.

A recent New York Times report indicates that far-right US activists are donating money to Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV), which advocates the dismantling of the European Union and thrives off the notion that the West is embroiled in some sort of civilizational conflict with Islam. European elections are typically vastly less expensive than their US counterparts, so single gifts of large dollar amounts can make quite a bit of difference. Far-right US activist David Horowitz contributed the single largest donation made in Dutch electoral politics in 2015 when he gave $150,000 to Wilders’ party.

PVV  is currently leading the polls in the Netherlands right now, which is gearing up for parliamentary elections next week. While this is harrowing, the fact remains that the prime minister is selected by a vote of representatives elected to parliament. If 11 to 15 parties are expected to gain seats, Geert Wilders will likely have trouble securing the threshold necessary for him to become prime minister.

Nonetheless, the soaring popularity of fervently bigoted political parties – aided and abetted by their peers in other countries – indicates a growing and entrenched network of nativist political forces. Organizing an international pro-social political network to combat this extremism is essential. 

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