Merkel copied me, says Dutch far-right leader Wilders
Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders said German Chancellor Angela Merkel had copied his politics to improve her popularity ratings, in a media interview released Sunday.
"Merkel is scared," Wilders told Spiegel news magazine. "Because there are surveys which suggest that, if a charismatic personality arose in Germany the way I did in the Netherlands, they could count on 20 per cent of the vote."
Wilders, who heads the far-right People's Party for Freedom (PVV), said this development threatened Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), who have traditionally shared the political mainstream, DPA reported.
"This is why they are trying to copy us: Merkel declared that multicultural society has failed," Wilders said, reiterating part of a statement by the chancellor last month.
At the time, Merkel had made a more nuanced assessment that the notion of multiculturalism, in which people live alongside each other in a patchwork of cultures, had "absolutely failed."
However, she added that integration had to succeed as Germany was reliant on immigrants.
Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), had earlier said Germany should not accept more immigration from "alien cultures" such as Turkey and Arab countries.
"What we experienced in Holland is now happening here (in Germany) too - the political elite is in turmoil," Wilders said.
The Dutch politician said most Germans did not accept the assessment by their president, Christian Wulff, that "Islam also belongs in Germany."
Two weeks ago, a German government spokesman rebuffed Wilders' claim that the CDU and CSU had taken "the lead in the domain of Islam criticism" in Europe.
The PVV became the third-strongest Dutch political force in June's parliamentary elections, meaning all decision-making now goes through Wilders, whose party backs a minority government formed by the Christian Democrats and the Liberal Party.