The leaders of the Dutch and French anti-immigrant, Islamophobic parties have called for EU referenda in the Netherlands and France following the UK’s vote in favour of exiting the bloc.
Geert Wilders, the head of the Dutch PVV party, said on Friday that the citizens of his country “would like to be in charge again of their own budget, their national borders and their immigration policy”.
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“I congratulate the British people for beating the political elite in both London and Brussels and I think we can do the same,” Wilders told the Reuters news agency. “We should have a referendum about a ‘Nexit’ as soon as possible.”
His party is leading opinion polls in the Netherlands – one of the six founder nations of what has become the EU.
Wilders said he would make a Dutch referendum on EU membership, also known as Nexit, a central theme of his campaign to become prime minister in the run-up to the 2017 parliamentary election, adding that this would allow him to tackle other issues as well.
“Within the concept of national sovereignty everything comes together. I think we will benefit [from Nexit] not only economically but also … [in tackling] the Islamisation of Europe, immigration, the threat of Islamic terrorism that we see growing, the emergence of asylum seekers,” he said.
“We cannot deal with [these issues] today [within the EU].”
However, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he did not see much interest in having a Dutch national referendum on EU membership as the Dutch understand that “cooperation with other countries in a common market … is vital for our country”.
Rutte said it was “important now, also in the interest of the Netherlands, that we try to find a solution step-by-step and in a stable manner.”
The leader of another Eurosceptical party in Europe, France’s far-right National Front, also called for a referendum in her country, calling it “a democratic necessity”.
“The British people have given to Europeans and to all the people of the world a shining lesson in democracy,” Le Pen said with a broad smile on her face. “A victory for freedom. We now need the same referendum in France and in EU nations.”
Le Pen, who is a member of the European Parliament, is also positioning herself to run for president of France in elections next year.
She said pro-independence movements in the EP would meet soon to plan their next move after the British vote.
On Thursday, Britons voted to leave the 28-nation EU, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and dealing the biggest blow to the European project of greater unity since World War Two.
Unlike the UK, the Netherlands and France use the euro currency and are also members of the open-border Schengen zone and so are more deeply integrated in the EU.
According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, about 61 percent of the population in France view the EU unfavourably. Only 38 of those surveyed in the country have a favourable opinion of the bloc.
The polls by the survey showed that the Dutch people have a better opinion of the EU. About 51 percent are in favour of the bloc, while about 46 have an unfavourable view of it.