Return to Transcripts main page
Wilders Revels in His Moment Ahead of Dutch Election; Dutch Voters Prepare for Landmark Election; What Will Brexit Mean for British Universities; Giving Mussolini a Black Eye. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired March 14, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Dutch voters prepare for the polls. Will they follow the British and Americans riding a wave of
populist backlash or will they mount a backlash to the backlash.
Also ahead, the flight of the academics. Oxford University warns that Brexit could cause a damaging brain drain if EU professors, researchers and
students all have to leave.
The university's first female vice chancellor, Louise Richardson, joins the program.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Don't vote for parties that see Turkey as an enemy. That is the message today from the Turkish President Erdogan to the people of the Netherlands.
The latest salvo in an escalating spat between the two countries just ahead of the Dutch election, which is tomorrow.
The race is very tight between the conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and the far-right Geert Wilders, whose captive personality and one page
manifesto to ban the Koran, to shut a mosque and to stop immigration from Muslim countries threatens to make the Netherlands number three in a
populist trifecta that brought the west, Brexit and then Trump.
We begin with this report from our Atika Shubert in Amsterdam.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Geert Wilders says he is not the Dutch Donald Trump, but he does have his own Trumpian mane of hair.
He's even tougher on Islam. He wants to ban Islam's holy book, the Koran, and he has blamed Muslim migrants and the Netherlands' large Moroccan
community in particular as criminals.
GEERT WILDERS, DUTCH PARTY FOR FREEDOM: But there is a lot of Moroccans come in Holland, who makes the streets unsafe.
SHUBERT: Wilders made a splash at last year's G.O.P. convention, headlining "Wake Up: The Party for Gay Trump Supporters Hosted by
Conservative Provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos."
Wilders has long-standing time with American conservative. The L.A.-based David Horowitz Foundation is his biggest donor, giving more than $120,000.
That is a whopping amount by Dutch election standards.
That support and Wilders' fiery rhetoric has made his freedom party one of the most popular in Dutch elections for the last decade. But Wilders has
never come close to being prime minister.
To explain why, professor of political science Rude Coal unfolds his massive voter information pamphlet for us. 26 parties are running.
Deeply fragmented electoral system, you have to make friends to govern in the Netherlands. Wilders doesn't have many.
RUUD KOOLE, UNIVERISTY OF LONDON: The Dutch political system doesn't have a party that can win a majority of the seats in parliaments. We always
have coalition governments for that reason.
The voters do not really believe that he has the solutions to solve this problem, but at least Wilders expresses their concern.
SHUBERT: Here's how it breaks down. Wilders would have to win more than 50 percent of the vote outright. And though he remains at the top of the
polls, his lead has slipped.
WILDERS: Look at the Islamization of our country.
SHUBERT: His campaign was suspended over security fears. Ongoing death threats means he is constantly flanked by bodyguards. Like Trump, he's a
Twitter addict. Shaping his nationalist, anti-immigration policies online and there isn't much debate within his freedom party, because, well, it
only has one official member -- Geert Wilders.
The 12 freedom party lawmakers with seats in parliament are personally hand-picked and appointed by Wilders, not by voters.
KOOLE: He is the one. It's a leadership model. He is the one who decides all the others have to do what he wants them to do.
SHUBERT: In the last days before the vote, Wilders suddenly embarked on a flurry of campaign stops, including this open-air press conference next to
a flyover in an Amsterdam Industrial Estate. When I asked Wilders about the slump in the polls, he was defiant, but also laid the groundwork for
WILDERS: Many parties are copying what we intend to do. Everybody's talking about it. That's the good thing. As a matter of fact, we won the
elections before Election Day, because everybody's talking about immigration, national identity.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The office of president of the United States.
SHUBERT: The inauguration of Donald Trump was expected to help his fellow nationalists in Europe, but the influence of Trump may cut both ways.
Atika Shubert, CNN, Amsterdam.
AMANPOUR: So Geert Wilders, as we said, associates himself so much with the Trump movement that he did travel to the Republican convention in
Cleveland last summer where I caught up with him on the convention floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[15:05:00] WILDERS: First, Brexit is important, and I would like to have an exit, get out of the Europe Union. Second, make sure that when it comes
to the immigration of Islamic countries, that there will be a full stop.
Second, if people with double nationality and most of the Muslims in Holland have double nationality, if they commit a crime and they are
unfortunately overrepresented in the crime statistics, we should denaturalize them and send them out of our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So what do these extreme views mean for a country known the world over for its liberal values? Europe's very own utopia. Will it
survive? I asked the Dutch writer, Rutger Bregman, who's author of "Utopia for Realists."
AMANPOUR: Mr. Bregman, welcome from Amsterdam.
RUTGER BREGMAN, AUTHOR, UTOPIA FOR REALISTS: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: Geert Wilders was at the Republican National Convention, essentially taking credit if you like for the wave of Brexit and Trump and
all of the rest of it.
It is true that Wilders started this kind of anti-immigration politics way before those others, right? What is it that caused the kind of consensus
in the Netherlands to crack around that time?
BREGMAN: I think that Geert Wilders is actually one of the great utopian thinkers of our time. So many things that he's saying for about ten years
now in the Netherlands would have been completely unimaginable just 20 to 30 years ago.
And when two years ago, Donald Trump started to say very shocking things, well, we in the Netherlands were already quite used to that. So Geert
Wilders had said things about mosques. He refers to them as hate palaces and talking about street terrorists when he refers to Moroccan youth. So
we were actually already quite used to this kind of shocking language.
AMANPOUR: But why do you think that happened and so early on? And you say he's one of the original utopians. You've obviously written a book called
"Utopia for Realists." But what do you mean that he is a utopian?
BREGMAN: So I was born in 1988, which was a year before the fall of the Berlin Wall. And you might remember this book by Francis Fukuyama, "The
End of History and the Last Man."
And many people believe that -- I mean, we had arrived at the end of history. That we are known for grant meritus (ph) ideologies anymore. And
this was the case especially in the Netherlands.
In the '90s, we had a very technocrat government and well, we thought all that was left was just waiting for the new gadget and making sure that we
had a little more economic growth.
But then, the twin towers fell and the consensus cracked. I think it sort of shows that history never ends, and people always long for an
alternative. And if the center doesn't provide it, then it's going to go in the other direction.
AMANPOUR: Many people in the world see utopia as perfection. The Netherlands comes about as close to that as possible. You've got, you
know, life satisfaction in the Netherlands on this special scale at 7.4 percent, or rather, 7.4. The UK, 6.5; Greece, 5.6.
You know, the Dutch, it's said, are generally wealthier, healthier, and happier than most of their counterparts.
So what's happened? And do you really think that Geert Wilders can be the biggest party winner after tomorrow's election?
BREGMAN: Well, let me first say that one of the great things about the Netherlands is that it's an actual democracy. So we have a proportional
system of representation, which means that at max, Wilders will get about 15, maybe 20 percent of the vote.
And all the other parties don't want to govern with him. So I don't think we should overestimate that. This is not democracy that offers only two
choices like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. There's a lot of choice. So that's the first thing.
The other thing is that the great problem of today, of my generation, is not so much that we don't have it good. I mean, you're right. In many
respects, we're incredibly rich, wealthy, healthy, but I think that's actually the case for a lot of parts of the western world that we have made
tremendous progress in the past 200 years.
The problem of today is that we have no vision of where to go from here. That we have no new utopian dreams. And that's why I write in my book,
"Utopia for Realists," about what those new visions could be.
And I mean, there's good news from the Netherlands as well. We've seen a huge movement in favor of a universal basic income that started just three,
four years ago.
And I understand that international journalists are really interested in the Wilders phenomenon, but we're already quite used to it. Not very
AMANPOUR: I just want to play you this little snippet from the debate last night, between Wilders and the prime minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WILDERS: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WILDERS: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:10:00] AMANPOUR: So, you know, making these grandiose plans about a Koran police, what do you think people are going -- in other words, what is
the anecdote to this kind of stuff?
BREGMAN: Well, even though Geert Wilders has never been in government in the Netherlands, he's been incredibly influential. That's because other
people have moved in his direction.
So I think what we shouldn't do is stay in the center. I think we really need to push back and come up with alternative utopian visions. I mean, if
Geert Wilders has utopian visions, you need other utopian visions that go in the other direction. And that's what's sorely lacking right now in the
Netherlands, but also in other places.
And the idea was that, well, we've defeated the populists. Actually, one major newspaper had the headline four years ago after the election, the
center is back.
Well, I think that's really an illusion. The center, if it just keeps out, churning facts and figures and keeps hoping for a little bit more economic
growth, that supposedly will solve all our problems. I think that's just a fallacy. And that we really need new ideas.
AMANPOUR: Wilders and some of the other smaller populists have talked about, you know, an EU referendum and an exit. You know, with the figures
we've just been talking about broadly, the EU has been good to the Dutch and the Dutch have been good to the EU.
Why such resistance?
BREGMAN: Well, obviously, this is a Europe-wide phenomenon. But, I mean, don't think that a nexus is very likely. Apart from the Geert Wilders and
his party, of which he is the only member, by the way, so apart from him, there's no political party in the Netherlands that really wants to exit the
Most of the Dutch are -- at the end of the day, they are pro-Europe. They're just quite dissatisfied by the way things are going right now, but
they wouldn't want to exit Europe.
AMANPOUR: All right, Rutger Bregman, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
BREGMAN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And when we come back, in this country, does Oxford University face a brain drain, a Brexit brain drain? I speak to the university's vice
chancellor, Louise Richardson, about uncertainty gripping the UK and also about a spot of sexism on the golf course. That's next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. Oxford University is ranked number one in the world, but for how much longer? The university will suffer,
quote, "enormous damage" if EU citizens lose the right to remain or work in Britain after Brexit.
The warning comes from the heads of 35 Oxford colleges who say some academics are already making plans to leave. But on Monday, the British
parliament rejected amendments to the Brexit bill, which would have protected the rights of EU citizens already here. And D-day for triggering
Article 50 separation by the end of March looms.
Professor Louise Richardson is vice chancellor of the University of Oxford and she joins me now.
Welcome to the program.
LOUISE RICHARDSON, VICE CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Am I -- you know, am I casting aspersions against Oxford's reputation by questioning whether it can survive the brain drain that
you're all very concerned about?
RICHARDSON: I think you're not casting aspersions at all. I think we worry very much about a brain drain. I think it would be enormously
difficult to maintain our global status if the security of our staff is not -- if they're not reassured that they would be able to remain in this
[15:15:00] AMANPOUR: What is happening right now? I mean, you were moved to sign this letter to the government, as they were going through that last
process in the House of Commons this Monday. They basically ignored what you asked them to do, which is to guarantee the rights of EU's citizens.
What have you been noticing already?
RICHARDSON: Well, we were disappointed, if not entirely surprised, that the MPs did not support the Lords' amendment. And our goal is actually the
same as the government here.
The government has repeatedly said that EU citizens will be entitled to remain. We would simply like them to guarantee that to our staff, because
in an era of uncertainty, our academics in particular have many options. Anybody who's good enough to teach at Oxford is highly movable, highly
desirable by other universities.
We have many of our academics are receiving offers from universities in Europe. Many of them are considering these very seriously, because they
want to ensure that their research will be funded. They're unsure about the status of their children in this country. So what we were doing is
trying to encourage the government to do what we are convinced the government is ultimately going to do anyway and that is guarantee the right
to remain of our EU citizens.
AMANPOUR: Because, you wrote, and this is from the letter co-written by you, our EU colleagues are not reassured by a government which tells them
the deportation is not going to happen, but declines to convert that assurance into law. Some are worried and some are already making plans to
Now, you've described how they are feeling. But, what trickle down, what knock on effect does that have if, you know, this kind of brain power and
academic research and funding and all the rest of it leaves an institution such as yours?
What happens one year, two, five down the line?
RICHARDSON: Well, it's the universities have long time horizons. And it's the five years down the line that we worry about. The five, ten, 20 years
down the line that we worry about. It's the impact on the research that takes place here. The problems that our researchers are trying to solve
are not national problems.
They are trying to cure disease. They are trying to address climate change. They are trying to address terrorism. These are global problems.
And if we cannot bring together the smartest people from around the world, from every part of the world to work together on these shared problems,
then our academic life would be impoverished.
And by implication and by natural extension, the life of the country will be impoverished, because these scientific discoveries will be less likely
AMANPOUR: And let's just focus again on this, you know, August center of learning, of which you are the vice chancellor. Already, universities
across the UK are experiencing a dramatic fall in applications from EU students since Brexit. All the figures sort of reveal that. So does that
then put Britain kind of closer to the back of the queue in terms of academia, research, all the rest of the things you are describing?
RICHARDSON: Well, there has, indeed, been a decline in European applications, but actually not to Oxford. Our applications have gone up.
This year, 16 percent of our students are citizens of the EU, as compared to 15 percent last year. But that won't last. That's only in the short-
term. Once international -- EU citizens have to pay international fees. We anticipate that number declining.
AMANPOUR: And you mentioned, you know, global problems, climate change and terrorism. You once wore a terrorist expert hat and you still are in that
sort of academic line there.
When you look around the effects of Brexit and all the conversation that goes on about how strong Britain still will be and how the rest of Europe
and the world will need British expertise on anything, from trade to, you know, defense, security, and counterterrorism, what is your answer to that?
Because already, we have a situation brewing in your home country of Ireland.
They are very upset. The Irish and the northern Irish, at the thought of suddenly having a hard border, and everything, including terrorism, being,
you know, in play.
RICHARDSON: Well, one of the many difficulties of holding a referendum, it's a single binary vote and people vote for all kinds of reasons. And I
think in the referendum in Britain, the implications for Scotland and indeed for Ireland were not considered. They weren't part of the debate.
And, in fact, the implications for Ireland are enormous.
Firstly, economic implications that Britain is Ireland's biggest trading partner. But secondly and most critically, the border. If there were to
be introduced a hard border between the north and south of Ireland, it's hard to believe it wouldn't be calamitous for the peace process. It would
be an open invitation for extreme Republicans to attack it.
It would give them a reason for being, yet again. The EU has been such a force for good in providing support to the peace process in Northern
Ireland. And that peace process has been one of the very good news stories coming out of Britain over the past few decades.
AMANPOUR: And it's not just Northern Ireland and the republic. It's also north again in Scotland. And we spoke two years ago, as one of our many
conversations, when you were then principle of St. Andrews in Scotland, St. Andrews University, riding the wave of that Scottish referendum then. And
you had the same worries about academia. But now you see that in a post- Brexit world, Scotland is going to try again for an independence referendum.
I just want to ask you what you think Nicola Sturgeon is doing? I know you were against independence the first time around. Do you think it's more
likely to happen this time? And do you think she's actually putting a welcome break on the notion of a hard exit by the British government?
RICHARDSON: Well, I hope she's putting a break on the prospect of a hard exit. But as to predicting the outcome, I was wrong in predicting that the
last referendum in England, in the UK. And I was wrong in predicting the American presidential election. So I think I've given up predicting.
AMANPOUR: But what do you think it will mean? I mean, here we have, you know, the United Kingdom, possibly could fall apart.
RICHARDSON: Yes, indeed, it could. And I don't think the implications of that were thought through at all about those who either fought the
referendum or, indeed, decided to hold it.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, again, as you're watching this. Suddenly, you know, the whole idea of the competent government and, you know, they're
going methodically through, they haven't yet triggered Article 50. We were told it might happen this week. It looks like maybe Theresa May deflected
that. But there's a whole lot of uncertainty around the fact that what if Britain actually doesn't get a deal in the two-year negotiating period?
And it seems like people here haven't got a plan "B."
RICHARDSON: Well, there's no doubt that uncertainty is bad. Uncertainty is bad for business. Uncertainty is bad for academics. As I said, we
operate in a long time horizon. We're trying to recruit people here if we can't guarantee whether or not they'll be able to stay here.
Only today, I interviewed a very eminent European for a senior job at our university. I have no idea what his legal status would be. And this
uncertainty is really damaging Britain, I think.
AMANPOUR: And lastly, I said, you know, a spot of sexism on the golf course. When you were elected principle of St. Andrews, you were not able
to join the all-male golf course there, although most principles did have an honorary membership.
Now, the Muirfield Golf Club is voting to allow women members, after many, many hundreds of years of not allowing. What is your view on that?
RICHARDSON: Well, what can I say? Better late than never, I suppose.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. Vice Chancellor Louise Richardson, thanks for joining us from Oxford tonight.
RICHARDSON: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: And after a break, a man who broke convention with his bare fists. The black Italian boxer who knocked Mussolini back on his heels.
We imagine this incredible life surfacing at last -- next.
[15:25:45] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, we imagine a figure who had been consigned to the footlights of history charging back onto center stage like
a raging bull.
You may not have heard of the black Italian boxer, Leone Jacovacci, but you soon will. As Italy debuts the film documenting his heroic struggle
against racism and fascism it Mussolini's Italy.
Called "The Duce's Boxer." It finally recognizes an incredible life and symbolic black eyes that he left on his Duce's Italy. Born in 1902, in the
Congo, Jacovacci was raised just outside Rome. He joined the British army near the end of the First World War and began boxing in London. Via a
stopover in France, he fought his way back to Italy, where in 1928, he beat the fascist favorite boxer, Mario Bosisio in front of 40,000 fans in his
hometown of Rome.
The regime couldn't stand a black Italian champion and it destroyed his career. And he died in the 1980s, working as a porter in an apartment
block in Milan.
But now, all these years later, we're about to witness that punch felt all across Italy. The film is released next week.
And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online @Amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.