Wilders withdraws from another election debate over interview with his brother

Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders

PVV leader Geert Wilders withdrew from another election debate arranged by broadcaster RTL after RTL Nieuws had an interview with Wilders' brother Paul. Last week Wilders already withdrew from the Premier debate on February 26th, now he will also not be taking part in the Carré debate on March 5th. According to him, he is withdrawing because RTL "got his family involved with the campaign", he said on Twitter.

"What unbelievably vile scum RTL is to involve my family in the campaign. Disgusting", Wilders said on Twitter. 

In the interview Paul Wilders said, among other things, that his younger brother can not take criticism "Who contradicts Geert is finished. Family or not." he said. After years of media silence, Paul spoke out against the PVV leader on Twitter in December, and since then the brothers haven't been speaking, he said to the broadcaster.

His criticism on the PVV leader has led to him being threatened multiple times, Paul told RTL. "The threats began around 2008." he said. "For example when I go walking with my dogs. Then I run into groups of men. They were waiting for me with bats. Now and again a punch was thrown. I don't run away from it, but the fact is that it happens and is upsettings. And then I'm not even talking about the numerous telephone threats." The most recent threats happened a few weeks ago. "I walked to my car one night, it was dark. 'After the elections, we will deal with you', a group of men shouted. As if a victory for the PVV gives them legitimacy to do something."

Last week Wilders and VVD leader Mark Rutte withdrew from the RTL Premier debate because the broadcaster invited five parties to participate instead of four. The debate will now happen without the two biggest parties in the polls. GroenLinks, CDA, D66, PvdA and SP will now participate in that debate.

The leaders of the eight largest parties were invited for the Carré debate. It will now continue without Wilders, RTL editor Harm Taselaar confirmed, saying that he regrets that Wilders pulled out of this one too. "I still stand behind the interview we had with Wilders' brother. In it he mostly talks about the consequences his brothers' decisions had on him." Taselaar said, adding that the debate will continue. "It can not be that we have to cancel debates on the whims of one politician, but what the substantive consequences will be I cannot say."

This means that Wilders will now only participate in two debates. On March 13th he'll debate with Rutte on EenVandaag,  if the PVV can hold onto one of the top two positions in the polls. And the next day he will debate with PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher on NOS. The elections are on March 15th.

Asscher is taking into account that Wilders will withdraw from the NOS debate too, he said to WNL on Sunday.