A rather bizarre story caught my attention a few days ago concerning a former member of Geert Wilder’s Party, the PPV. Joram van Klaveren, formerly a senior member of the party, announced that he had converted to Islam. This was obviously a surprise to those of us who have long campaigned on the Political Right, and raises some questions that need answering. Why on earth did he spend years in the Netherland’s Lower House campaigning against Islam, if, as he now claims, he didn’t know enough about it? And what exactly has attracted him to a religion that ultimately spells doom for his nation in the long term?
It follows a similar case last year, when AfD Politician Arthur Wagner, who had sat on the party’s executive committee in Brandenburg State, also converted to Islam. He brushed off his conversion as a ‘private matter’, despite the AfD’s website stating that ‘Islam does not belong in Germany’. Such ideological defections are thankfully rare, however they can dishearten even the most avid populist. This is why it is so important that the movements that are campaigning against Islamisation, the European Commission and mass immigration do weed out those who are not genuinely committed to the cause.
Another story worth reporting this week within the Populist movement comes from Sweden, where SD (Sweden Democrats) Leader Jimmie Akesson has stated that the EU’s treatment of Britain during the Brexit negotiations has persuaded him against leaving the bloc – at least for the time being. An MEP from his party also stated that the SD party would no longer seek a referendum on Sweden’s membership of the EU. This is puzzling for two reasons. Firstly, because Britain’s economy is actually doing very well, and so Sweden doesn’t have much to fear if it triggered Article 50 in the future. And secondly, because a populist backing down as a reaction to the efforts of his political foes will surely only embolden those same foes.
All that I have mentioned above is why I am so thankful for the emergence of Matteo Salvini and his tenure as Italy’s Interior Minister. He has successfully reduced illegal immigration into his country by 95%, and is fighting the good fight despite strong left wing opposition. He is currently being prosecuted under the absurd charge of ‘kidnapping’ for simply refusing to allow a migrant boat to dock – yet he has not backed down.
Salvini is also dealing with two other problems. Silvio Berlusconi is currently scheming behind his back as a way of returning to office, despite having almost no public or political support. The other problem for Salvini is the increasing hostility of his coalition partner, Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. In a recent conversation with Angela Merkel, the audio of which was leaked, Conte said that he wanted to take in migrants, and that Salvini is ‘against everyone’.
Matteo Salvini is an example to populists across the West. No matter what pressure is thrown at you, the imperative must be to stand your ground. The Yellow Vests, despite enduring scenes of horrific violence by France’s Police, have also kept going for 3 months as well – and they should also be praised. The Left are determined in the pursuit of their goals, and the Right needs to be just as determined, because there are more important battles to come.