The Turkish foreign minister has commented on the Dutch general elections, expressing his discontent with the outcome.
Elections in the Netherlands were held on March 15. As of March 16 -- with all but two vote counts complete -- the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, had won the vote with 33 of 150 seats in the Dutch House of Representatives, reports the BBC. The Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Geert Wilders, came in second with 20 seats.
According to Vox, during his campaign, Wilders ran on a far-right platform that called for anti-Islamic legislation to be implemented in the Netherlands. Such policies included a tax for the wearing of a hijab and banning new Muslim immigrants from entering the country.
According to The Independent, Wilders also expressed anti-Turkey sentiments during the campaign. He held a small protest outside of the Turkish embassy, and called Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan a "dictator."
European leaders have celebrated the victory of the VVD over the PVV, seeing it as a rejection of Wilders' platform. According to the BBC, French President Francois Hollande called the outcome a "clear victory against extremism." German Chancellor Angela Merkel also expressed her relief at the outcome, calling it "good day for democracy."
However, not all foreign leaders shared Hollande and Merkel's sentiments. In stark contrast, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, did not think that the election was anything to celebrate.
“When you look at the many parties you see there is no difference between the social democrats and fascist [Geert] Wilders. All have the same mentality," said Cavusoglu in a translation by the Hurriyet Daily News. "Where will you go? Where are you taking Europe? You have begun to collapse Europe. You are dragging Europe into the abyss. Holy wars will soon begin in Europe.”
Cavusoglu's comments are in line with sentiments that have been expressed by other Turkish officials in light of Turkey's upcoming constitutional referendum. According to The Independent, the referendum would reduce the power of Turkey's parliament and grant sweeping executive powers to the country's president. Erdogan and Cavusoglu have been attempting to campaign for the event in different European countries, including the Netherlands.
On March 11, Dutch authorities canceled a rally that was to be held by Cavusoglu in Rotterdam. Since then, Erdogan and other Turkish officials have begun calling Dutch government officials "fascists" and "Nazis." Such claims have been heavily criticized by members of the European Union.
In addition, on March 15, Turkish hackers spread Erdogan's Nazi accusations, using the hashtag #NaziHolland, across several high-profile Twitter accounts. The messages were also very clearly pro-Erdogan, and included a link to him speaking.