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Dutch Freedom Party Leader Cancels Second Election Debate

Dutch nationalist party leader Geert Wilders withdraws from a debate after its organizers interview his brother.

Nick Ottens

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Nick Ottens
Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders attends a memorial ceremony in Almelo, March 2, 2015
Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders attends a memorial ceremony in Almelo, March 2, 2015 (RTV Oost/Rogier van den Berg)

Are all populists so thin-skinned?

The Dutch Donald Trump, Geert Wilders, canceled his participation in an election debate organized by RTL in two weeks’ time after its news division published an interview with the politician’s older brother on Sunday.

The Freedom Party leader called the interview “incredibly vile,” but his brother hasn’t exactly shied away from the media. He even contributed to a left-wing opinion website for a while.

In the interview, Paul Wilders criticizes his brother’s take-no-prisoners mentality.

He also laments that the two have barely spoken since Paul started speaking out against the Freedom Party’s nativist policies.

Other debates

This is the second debate Wilders cancels. He also withdrew from a debate of prospective prime ministers after its organizers invited more than the previously-agreed four party leaders.

Liberal party leader and incumbent prime minister Mark Rutte canceled his participation in that debate for the same reason.

Wilders’ Freedom Party and Rutte’s liberals are polling at 18 and 16 percent support, respectively.

The Christian Democrats, liberal Democrats and Greens hover around 10 percent support each. Organizers felt it would have been unfair to disinvite one of those three parties when they effectively share third place.

Two more debates are scheduled before the election in March. All major party leaders have been invited to those sessions.

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