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Dutch Voters Head To Polls Wednesday; What You Need To Know About The Dutch Elections; Dutch Foreign Minister On Rise Of Populism In Europe; Wave Of Populism Sweeping Across Europe; #MyFreedomDay: Students Stand Up To Slavery; Conservative Rutte and Far-right Wilders in Tight Race; E.U. Court Rules Religious Symbol Ban is Legal; Scots Divided Over Push to Split from England; Fillon Placed Under Formal Investigation. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 14, 2017 - 16:00   ET




HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a special edition of THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. We are live in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. The eyes of the world

are on this country ahead of tomorrow's hugely important elections, pitting the far-right anti-immigrant party against some more moderate candidates.

We'll have that.

Also coming up -- the culmination of a truly inspiring CNN initiative. Today is My Freedom Day and we take you around the world for what is a

student-led day of action to end modern-day slavery. We'll have that, as well.

Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. This is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. As I mentioned, we are live in Amsterdam, important elections here. The first

of many across the continent. We'll have it all for you, coming up.

Well, we will have much more excitement and inspiration as well from My Freedom Day throughout the show tonight. But first, we are here in the

Netherlands, on the eve of a very significant election in the country's history, one that might even have repercussions throughout the continent.

Voters are set to decide who they want in parliament and who they want as their prime minister. Right now, candidates from 14 parties are taking

turns in a television debate to make their final pitch. You're seeing sort of one on one duels on television. This is not all 14 candidates at once.

It looks a little different from what you might be used to seeing on American television or what happened during the campaign in the United

States. But if you boil it all down, these elections will come down to a stark choice for voters.

Either maintain the status quo and re-elect the party of the Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, put him in government with a new coalition or make a

hard break turn to the far-right. By the way, there's the prime minister.

And you see the hard break turn to the far right in the incarnation of this man, it would mean voting for Geert Wilders and his anti-Muslim, anti-E.U.


Our Atika Shubert has been following the election campaign and she joins us live from, should we call it with, the election barge in Amsterdam?


GORANI: Listen, this is an important election and the eyes of the world are on it, why? Because we had the Brexit shock, we had the election of

Donald Trump, where so few people expected. And now we have this first test in Europe.

SHUBERT: Absolutely. It is being seen as a litmus test and it has to be said, incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has actually campaigned on that.

Yesterday, he had a press conference where he said, we remember Brexit, remember the U.S. election. Let's not make the same mistake. Stay with

the status quo. Stay with what you know.

And so that's been his big campaign push and it may have helped him. We are seeing a slight rise of Rutte in the polls, but Wilders is still very

much up there, one of the top parties.

GORANI: But stay with the status quo didn't help other candidates much. It's not much of a message, right? I mean, it's not much of a vision, is


SHUBERT: No, it's not an inspiring message, but it is one for people seeking safety. And it's an interesting thing, you know, there was some

speculation when Trump was inaugurated, whether or not this would mean you would see a whole bunch of nationalist, populist figures like Geert Wilders

getting elected.

But in the last -- you know, since the inauguration, the kind of child abuse we've seen coming out of the Trump administration has caused voters

to second-guess this thing, is that what I really want?

So that's why we've seen in the polls, up and down, Wilders will go up, he'll go down, and I think a lot of people wondering what they're going to

do. A lot of voters haven't made up their minds yet, who they're going to vote for.

GORANI: But regardless of the final result, Geert Wilders has set the agenda, hasn't he?

SHUBERT: He really has. I mean, we had a chance to speak with him last weekend, and this is exactly what he said, he said, even if I lose seats, I

still win this election because all of these issues, identity, immigration, the issue of what they call "Islamization" according to Wilders. This is

what is being talked about at the elections. So as far as he's concerned, he's already won.

GORANI: He already feels like he's the victor here in some ways. Thanks very much, Atika Shubert. We'll be talking a lot more with Atika. Of

course, tomorrow, we'll have full coverage from The Hague.

To anyone outside of the Netherlands, tomorrow's elections appear to be a race as I mentioned there between to candidates, but voters are choosing

lawmakers from a very wild field of parties will need to form a government. And it gets even more complicated from there.

Well, if you're asking how Dutch politics works, here's a primer.


GORANI (voice-over): Dutch politics is defined by its extremely long list of parties. This is anything but a two-horse race. A full 28 parties are

on the ballot in this year's election. This huge choice splits the public vote many ways.

Meaning no one party ever reaches the magic number of 76 seats for a majority in parliament instead they always have to build coalitions.

[16:05:07]So despite the fact Geert Wilders has been doing well in the polls in the run-up to this vote, at some stages, even leading them, he

needs the support of other parties to become prime minister.

Even if he wins 30 seats, which is at the upper end of what he's predicted, he is still a long way off. Almost all major parties have ruled out being

in government, with Wilders PVV Party. The current Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, is one of those, who has said categorically, that he will not join a

coalition with Geert Wilders.

His center-right VVD Party will need to seek out different partners if he is to retain his leadership position. The process of forming a government

to sit in this parliament building in The Hague is notoriously long-winded.

It took 54 days last time there was an election in 2012 and that was considered quick. So even once the votes are counted and we have a

preliminary result, expected on Thursday, it could just be the first step on a long road to deciding who governs here in the Netherlands.


GORANI: So, you'll remember yesterday, we sat down with the Dutch foreign minister to discuss a diplomatic row with Turkey. I also asked him

questions about politics, concerns over immigration in the Netherlands. Also, the failure of some of these establishment parties that have

benefited, for instance, politicians like Geert Wilders and his party.

Here is what Burt Koenders' response to that was. Listen.


BURT KOENDERS, DUTCH FOREIGN MINISTER: This country has taken in Syrians with a lot of solidarity. Of course, there have also been concerns, also

for us. Immigration is always a difficult issue in each society. But to say we close the borders and forbid the Koran, these kind of things, is

going to be very counterproductive. We will see what voters will do.

My sense is at this point that no one wants to govern with Mr. Wilders, he has shown in an earlier government, when he was supporting that government,

he walked away when there was any difficult decision to be made.

GORANI: Where is the failure of establishment parties like yours? How responsible are they to -- if you did a mea culpa, you know, for the --

KOENDERS: Responsible for what?

GORANI: For the rise of some of these ferociously anti-Islam and anti- immigration parties, and the incarnation in terms of Holland, the incarnation of is Geert Wilders, but also in other countries, we're seeing

in France, for instance, the traditional socialists, very, very low in the polls. These establishment parties that represented the center, that were

the giant chunk of the electorate are now the minority.

KOENDERS: Your taking very much the language of the populists by saying, here is the elites and they didn't listen. That's exactly what they are

saying. People have --

GORANI: But there is some truth to that in the polling. I mean, it's not analysis. I mean, it's just how it's transpiring in the polls, as well, in

the voting.

KOENDERS: I think all politicians have to answer concerns of citizens that can be about speed and size of migration, about inequities, about flexible

workforce, about speed of globalization, all politicians have an obligation to answer to that, and we will see on Wednesday who wins that fight.


GORANI: We certainly will see on Wednesday. Let's get some perspective now from someone who knows Geert Wilders, who is a veteran politician in

this country, who served as an E.U. commissioner, who was an MP for many, many years.

Frits Bolkestein is a former leader of the Peoples Party for Freedom and Democracy, and he joins me now. Thank you, sir, for being with us.


GORANI: Now the world is watching the election in your country. There is fascination with what's going on here. Why? Because of what happened with

Brexit? Because of what happened with the election of Donald Trump? They're fascinated by the idea that this right-wing populism that is being

embodied by Geert Wilders perhaps will also do very well here. What are your thoughts?

BOLKESTEIN: Well, Trump and Brexit pertain to different countries, not Holland. We have, indeed, a politician called Wilders and he may well lead

the biggest party in parliament but that's not certain. My party may also be the biggest party. It's between the two of us.


BOLKESTEIN: And he is, indeed, a populist.

GORANI: He's also an anti-Islam activist. He's also anti-immigration. He's also anti-E.U.

BOLKESTEIN: He's usually against, anti.


BOLKESTEIN: And what he wants himself is not all that clear. So I'm not sure that he would know what to do if he were to govern and indeed, he

won't govern. Even though his party may be the biggest, we'll see day after tomorrow. Even though, he won't govern and there will be a ring

against him.

GORANI: Why is it that (inaudible) such a rich country, such a stable peaceful country, open and tolerant, such large portion of the electorate

would support Geert Wilders?

BOLKESTEIN: That is, indeed, a good question.

GORANI: I'm sorry. Apologies.

[16:10:08]BOLKESTEIN: Holland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, second wealthiest in Europe. It's a stable country. A good

infrastructure, good education, public health is good. So very difficult to understand what people have to quarrel about. That they always have

something to quarrel about and that also is the electorate that Wilders plays upon.

GORANI: You worked for many years a commissioner at the E.U.

BOLKESTEIN: Five years.

GORANI: Yes. Is Holland ready to embrace the idea of a Nexit, exiting the E.U.?

BOLKESTEIN: No, that is absolutely nonsense. People in Holland know perfectly well that the European Union is in their favor. It's important

thing for Holland and the people realize it. So this is --Nexit is not on.

GORANI: But it's still resonating with a portion of the population?

BOLKESTEIN: Well, I mean, yes, maybe so, but it's just not on.

GORANI: So, let's talk about a little bit about your expectations.


GORANI: Because here you have Geert Wilders, which, by the way, his party has been slipping a little bit in the polls. You think that has something

to do with Donald Trump? And how his performance --

BOLKESTEIN: No, no, they're not as internationally (inaudible), no.

GORANI: Who are his voters?

BOLKESTEIN: They are disgruntled white labor.

GORANI: As in a working class whites.

BOLKESTEIN: Yes, working class whites and people are opposed to Muslims, wherever they think Muslims might be. So he has a very particular

electorate, but it attracts a lot of people. That is true.

GORANI: There's new fresh blood, though, coming in from the Green Party and other smaller parties. Silvana Simons (ph) who may have met there, a

small party called "Article One" says she wants to bring fresh vision to Dutch politics. Why are these establishment parties doing poorly, do you


BOLKESTEIN: It's easy to get into parliament in this country. All you need is 50,000 votes and you're in. So, many people try their luck, I

think they also try their luck, and good luck to her, but I don't think we'll make it.

GORANI: All right. Well, thank you very much, Frits Bolkestein, we really appreciate you dropping by with your perspective on where this election is

headed and how important it is. Thank you very much. Apologies for my little cold there that interrupted us for a bit.

No matter what happens tomorrow, some say Geert Wilders can claim at least some sort of victory. I spoke with Wierd Duk, a journalist with the Dutch

newspaper, Algemeen Dagblad, and here's what he had to say about that.


GORANI: All right, let's talk a little bit about what's motivating this vote, though. Is it emotional or is it based on practical concerns? Fact-

based concerns in Holland?

WEIRD DUK, JOURNALIST, ALGEMEEN DAGBLAD: It's both, actually. It's emotional, but it's also based on facts and then there's a protest vote

from the countryside against the big cities. The people in the countryside see, they think that in a big city, there's a multicultural mess. This is

what they don't want in their regions and that's why they vote for Wilders because they think Wilders will build between the regions and the big


GORANI: Whether or not Geert Wilders outperforms or underperforms the polls, he's already dragged the center to the right, hasn't he?

DUK: It is true. So the referendum of the middle has changed, of course, a lot, because re-elections, because of Wilders, so that's actually what

Wilders is saying. I do not necessarily have to go into government because -- just because I'm here, and saying the things that I do, other parties --

they more or less take over my program.

GORANI: It's already a victory for him in some ways, isn't it?

DUK: In many ways, it's already a victory for him, yes.

GORANI: And here we go. We've just avoided severe head injury.

DUK: This is what happens when you go to Amsterdam. You break your neck.

GORANI: We're fine for now. Though we've seen in the last few weeks Wilders' popularity slip a little bit. How do you explain it?

DUK: Yes. I think this has to do also a little bit with Trump. In the first weeks of Donald Trump being chaotic and Wilders was very enthusiastic

about Trump. And I think people are afraid when Wilders becomes -- if he's theoretically becomes prime minister that it will be the same chaos as in

the United States.

GORANI: Because they look at Donald Trump here in Holland and they say, we don't necessarily this model in our country?

DUK: Exactly.

GORANI: Explain to viewers who look at -- and by the way, we're in the middle of the red light district here in Amsterdam. There's a lot of

tolerance for things like certain drugs. I mean, you know, certain type of night life activities. Why would a country like the Netherlands, why would

up to 20 percent of their voters support a far-right anti-immigration platform?

[16:15:07]DUK: Well, exactly because of this, because Wilders -- and that's the difference with other far-right politicians in the west. He

considers himself to be the defender of his liberties and of Dutch tolerance. He's very pro-homosexuality. He defends women's rights and all

the rights of citizen, you know, rights that he thinks Islam is threatening.

GORANI: But is Islam really threatening the Dutch way of life? Is it really? Is it -- I mean --

DUK: No, not at the -- well -- well, don't forget that one of our famous - - one of our famous people killed by Islams. This has been a shock for Holland, of course. He was one of the free speech, like activists here in

Holland. He has been killed by a Muslim and because of this traditional liberalism and tolerance he is displaying, what he says is like Islamists

are threatening our tolerance, our tolerance way of life.


GORANI: All right, still to come tonight, students around the world stand against modern day slavery. We are live in Mexico and the United States.

And we'll have a lot more from right here in Amsterdam, where voters are set to choose between political moderation and a more far-right

alternative. We'll be right back. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom means no child slavery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom means to pursue my dreams.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom is being able to protest peacefully.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom is being able to live without fear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom is being able to travel the way you want to in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom is making my own choices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom is to do whatever you want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom is being able to speak freely without being punished.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom means being able to be happy.


GORANI: All right. Well, in every corner of the world, students are rising up. They're saying no to modern day slavery. It is My Freedom Day.

CNN is showcasing how kids are being made aware of the horrors of slavery. It is, after all, about awareness, as well, and how they're being inspired

to stop it. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe freedom is having the abundance of power to fill or pursue one's dreams without having to care about the dangers of

backlash afterwards.


GORANI: Well, the numbers are staggering. Between 21 million and 45 million people are trapped in slavery. Passionate students from more

than a hundred schools are raising their voice.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom is living with the ability to think and to act whatever a person likes and how a person likes with no fear of

discrimination or to have their rights taken from them.

[16:20:10]UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: To me means everyone can choose what they want to do. It means there will be opportunity for everyone. Every child

can do what they want and enjoy the childhood without the burden of working.


GORANI: Well, here at CNN, we're using our global spotlight to tackle the problem in a powerful way. Our correspondents are live across the world

today. We have with us, Rafael Romo and Lynda Kinkade covering these events.

First let's go to CNN's Rafael in Toluca near Mexico City. Rafael Romo, take it away.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Hey, Hala, how are you? We are at the Autonomous University of Mexico State. These students

behind me are law students and they have dedicated this whole day to make a stand for freedom.

Let me show you some of the banners that they have put together, and as a matter of fact, the reason why they're standing is because they're making a

stand to remember all of the 45 million estimated victims of modern day slavery around the world.

But let's take a look at some of the signs we have here. They're both in English and Spanish. This one in Spanish says, let's fight for a world --

for a free world, a world without slavery, #myfreedomday. That's the hashtag. You see it everywhere.

There's another one there that says, #myfreedomday. And these students have taken time out of their day to not only make a stand, but also do

this, do the signs, talk to people, tell them that slavery is still a problem in the world and that somebody needs to do something about it.

And what they're telling me is that they know for a fact that they're not going to be able to end slavery around the world, but they can make a

difference here in Mexico. That's precisely what they're doing today.

Let me introduce you to Andrea Bohorquez, she belongs to an organization that fights human trafficking. Let me ask you what does it mean for you to

be standing here today and who has been very involved in this.

Andrea, thank you very much for being with us. First of all, let me ask you, what does it mean for you to be standing here today against slavery?

ANDREA BOHORQUEZ, VICE PRESIDENT, SIN TIATA: I think we are all standing here today because we want to raise our voices for those who can't.

Actually, we know that human trafficking is happening near to us and we really want to do something about it. So that's why it's really important

for us to be here.

ROMO: Something very interesting about your organization is you not only do this, what we're doing right now, but you go to schools, you go to

police officers, you go to judges and you train them to let them know that this is happening. And tell us exactly what you do when you go to talk to

those people?

BOHORQUEZ: Well, actually, what we want to do is that they know what human trafficking means. We want to share with other young people like high

school and middle school what this is, how can they protect themselves, to not put themselves at risk, and actually, we really want them to know that

this is real.

ROMO: Andrea, thank you so very much for what you're doing and for your commitment. And Hala, let me also tell you that this is not the only

campus where CNN is at. We also went to another college, UVM, and students at that college put together an art exhibit with photography.

Some photographs that are really very difficult to look at, but the idea is to make people think about slavery. Make people think that even though

we're in the 21st Century, this is still happening.

Also -- and to end with, let me tell you that Mexico is a country in 2012 adopted their first law against human trafficking, now, anybody who's

convicted of this crime can spend up to 40 years behind bars. Hala, back to you.

GORANI: Rafael Romo, thanks very much, live in Mexico with our coverage. And CNN's Lynda Kinkade is in Atlanta in the United States and she joins me

now live as well. What's happening where you are, Lynda?

LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Hala. I'm at the Atlanta International School and right now a big art project is underway. Students

from kindergarten through 12 are making paper plates describing what freedom means to them. Grace, what does freedom mean to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me freedom is the right to love and live your life to the fullest as much as you can.

KINKADE: That's a very good answer. These students are at the forefront in the fight against human trafficking. They have a club at the school,

Students Against Human Trafficking. This is a teacher who oversees that club, Veronica McDaniel. Why is it important for students to have

awareness about this problem?

VERONICA MCDANIEL, TEACHER, ATLANTA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL: Well, it affects their age group is the biggest issue. The average age is 12 to 14. It's

imperative they know the signs of human trafficking and how to prevent it happening to them or their friends.

KINKADE: Sex trafficking and modern day slavery are some pretty tough issues for teenagers to discuss. Do you have any parents that have

reservations about their children joining the club?

[16:25:06]MCDANIEL: I really haven't had any pushback, which I'm very appreciative of, over the last six years of being a part of this group, as

the teacher supervisor. The parents have been very progressive thinkers and very supportive of their kids being activists.

KINKADE: And this is one of the most popular social justice clubs in the school. What attracts students to this issue?

MCDANIEL: I think students are attracted to this issue, and this group, because they are so -- they have so much involvement. They get involved at

the local level with local nonprofits, volunteering, they go and lobby at the state capital. They're constantly active. They meet once a week

during lunch to discuss issues. There's so much to discuss and they feel that, and they want to make a change.

KINKADE: Hala, these students spend their lunchtime once a week discussing this issue, finding ways to fundraise. They give those funds back to

victims and survivors of modern day slavery?

MCDANIEL: Yes, they've choose different groups each year. Last year, they chose a local group that worked with labor trafficking survivors and in

years past, they've worked with kids and women specifically that were in rehabilitation programs.

KINKADE: Excellent. So tonight, there will be a panel forum. Thank you very much, Veronica. There will be a panel discussion held here in the

auditorium. These paper plates will form part of an art installation, if you like. You can see some of them up there, already on the stage.

And there will be a spokesperson from the FBI, a special agent, and there'll be a sex trafficking survivor and some advocacy groups. This will

be a community forum. About 400 people are expected to fill this room to discuss this issue -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. Interesting. Thanks very much, Lynda Kinkade is in the United States. Rafael Romo in Mexico there with students, pretty

passionate about trying to raise awareness and also combatting modern day slavery. And we'll keep our eye, of course, on this important initiative

on this very important day for CNN, as well.

There's a lot more to come. We are live in Amsterdam. Geert Wilders and his anti-immigrant message are facing a new pushback from a brand-new

political party. We'll bring that to you, next. Stay with us.


GORANI: Welcome back to a special edition of the program. We are live from Amsterdam on the eve of a very important elections here in the

Netherlands. It's also My Freedom Day, as you may have seen a few minutes ago.

[16:30:00] Children around the world are joining the fight against slavery. We'll have more on that in the program.

But here in the Netherlands, the race is tight between conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the far-right challenger, Geert Wilders.

Atika Shubert takes a closer look at Wilders.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Geert Wilders says he is not the Dutch Donald Trump, but he does have his own

Trumpian mane of hair. He is even tougher on Islam. He wants to ban Islam's holy book, the Koran, and he has blamed Muslim migrants and the

Netherland's large Moroccan community in particular as criminals.

GEERT WILDERS, FOUNDER, PARTY FOR FREEDOM: There is a lot of Moroccans who come in Holland who makes the streets unsafe.

SHUBERT (voice-over): Wilders made a splash at last year's GOP convention headlining, Wake Up, the party for gay Trump supporters, hosted by

conservative provocateur, Milo Yiannopoulos.

Wilders has long-standing ties with American conservatives. 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 Ruud Koole unfolds his massive voter pamphlet for us. Twenty-six parties are running. In a

deeply fragmented electoral system, you have to make friends to govern in the Netherlands. Wilders doesn't have many.

RUUD KOOLE, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF LEIDEN: The Dutch political system doesn't have a party that can win the majority of

the seats in parliament. We always have coalition governments, for that reason. The voters, for real, do not really believe that he has the

solutions to solve this problem, but at least Wilders expresses their concern.

SHUBERT (voice-over): 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. If that --

SHUBERT (voice-over): 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 handpicked 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 (voice-over): 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 state. When I asked Wilders about the slump in the polls, he was defiant but also laid

the groundwork for possible losses.

WILDERS: Many parties are copying what we intend to do. Everybody's talking now. That's a 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 the President of the United States.

SHUBERT (voice-over): 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.


GORANI: Well, here in the Netherlands, the system is, you can form a political party. You can contest the election. And there's a new

political party in this country that's trying to push back against Geert Wilders' far-right message. Sylvana Simons is a former T.V. presenter who

is now leader of Artikel 1.

How do you say it in Dutch? Article?


GORANI: "Artikel een."


GORANI: Now, this is a small political party. It was only formed last December. You were with the DENK Party before. What do you hope to


SIMONS: Well, I think that it is time that we oppose, real opposition to the xenophobic sentiments that Geert Wilders is spreading upon this

country. And we do so by reinforcing the first article of our constitution, which says that everybody is equal in this country, should be

treated equal, and that discrimination against anybody based on anything is illegal.

GORANI: You are the polar opposite of Geert Wilders, aren't you?


GORANI: I mean, you're all for inclusion, you're all for diversity. Some of your candidates, one is a transgender man; another is a woman from

Burundi. You, yourself, were born in Surinam when it was still a Dutch colony. And you're now here, obviously, forming this party and heading

this party.

Do you think you have what it takes to push back against Wilders?

SIMONS: I do because I think that what our party represents and reflects as well is the current state of diversity that we live in.


SIMONS: A lot of people like to say that integration in the Netherlands has failed, and we're here to prove that it is definitely successful. Me

and my co-founder, Ian Vanderkooye, who's number six on our list, we were born with these cultural backgrounds, but we are living proof that we do

feel responsible for the country that we live in. We're willing to take that responsibility.

[16:35:09] It also means that we are here to be an equal partner in the conversation that, for so long, has been about us and never with us. This

goes for people who consider themselves LGBT, this goes for women, any minority.

GORANI: But, by the way, we're seeing live images here -- they'll pop up in a second -- of the debate currently ongoing. Geert Wilders is taking

part in it.


GORANI: The current Prime Minister Mark Rutte, other candidates. Now, your party has not achieved the sort of required support in order to

participate in this particular debate?

SIMONS: Well, this is part of why the system needs to change.


SIMONS: Because we know what these parties are saying. They've been saying it for years. They have proven for years that no real positive

change is going to come about when we keep them in power. So this is a perfect symbol of how new voices always have to fight their way into the

system. It does make things a little bit --

GORANI: Why don't you join an established party? Why form a brand-new --

SIMONS: It is the --

GORANI: -- small --

SIMONS: It is --

GORANI: Why don't you join an already established party? I mean, in a sense, I just wonder, there's already the infrastructure there. You would

be one of the candidates.

SIMONS: Isn't it the established parties that have brought this country to the state that we're in today?

GORANI: But what state is that? This country is fantastic. I mean, if you go anywhere in the world --

SIMONS: I mean --

GORANI: -- this country's the envy of the world. People are rich here. It's stable, it's peaceful.

SIMONS: I'm not going to object the fact that this is a fantastic country, but, no --


SIMONS: Seriously --


SIMONS: -- it is a great country to live in, but we do have serious issues that need to be addressed.


SIMONS: One of them is growing inequality, be it socially, economically, be it religiously. We have to really address and have some uncomfortable

conversations about who we really are. For too long, we've told ourselves that we are the most tolerant country in the world.


SIMONS: Now, I love to talk about the word "tolerance," because I feel that we no longer want to be tolerated. It's time for us to be accepted

and be an equal partner in the conversation, simply because we're all stakeholders.

GORANI: But I find it interesting, what you're saying, because in so many countries and many of these countries will be holding elections -- there

will be France, it will be Germany as well, and others -- there is an ongoing conversation about multiculturism, diversity, and identity as well.

What does it mean to be Dutch? What does it mean to be French? What, today, does it mean to be American? I mean, this is what, emotionally,

sometimes the fuel behind some of these votes, right?

SIMONS: What I find interesting is who gets to decide what that identity - -

GORANI: Yes, who gets to decide?

SIMONS: Exactly.


SIMONS: And we cannot have a situation where only one dominant group gets to decide what it means for me to be Dutch. I am as Dutch as it comes.

However, there are forces claiming that I can only be Dutch if I have certain ideas, if I believe certain things, if I say certain things. So I

would like to have a government that facilitates its citizens to be free in choosing their identity.

GORANI: And you, Sylvana, have been the target of major online abuse, racist abuse, sexist abuse. Because, why? Because you've come out and

said what you think and given your opinion?

SIMONS: Exactly. Exactly. Because I've had the audacity to speak my mind about social and economical issues that affect me and the country that I

live in. And this is when it became clear to me that, apparently, there's a limit to how Dutch I can be.

Am I allowed to criticize the country that I live in? Am I allowed to be a forceful member --

GORANI: What's the answer to that question?

SIMONS: Well, one would --

GORANI: Are you allowed to be -- I mean, you're as Dutch as they come, is what you said.


GORANI: And yet you don't feel like you're considered Dutch by some?

SIMONS: Well, you know, somebody said to me, you know, you should know your place. And I'm here to show that I know my place, but it's time that

all of society understands my place. And not just me. It's about me, personally. It's me representing a group of people who go through this

every day.

The sexism that I endured that was so easily accepted by mainstream is something we need to tackle. We cannot act upon racism if we don't tackle

sexism. We cannot fix sexism if we don't look at all the other elements that are part of the problem. So intersectionality and looking at all the

issues at hand, from an intersectional point of view, is what we need right now.

GORANI: How are you going to do tomorrow, your party?

SIMONS: We're going to do great. We're going to surprise everybody.

GORANI: OK. We'll keep our eye on it. Sylvana Simons, thanks very much for joining us on CNN. We really appreciate it.

And you can check out our Facebook page,, and we'll post some of our most interesting content on the show page today. So

do that.

We're going to take a quick break. And earlier, you heard from journalist Wierd Duk. He did a Q&A session with us on Facebook. You can check that

out, as well. It will be on the page

Erin McLaughlin joins me now live. Right-wing politicians are hailing a ruling by Europe's top court. It decided that companies were allowed to

ban their employees from wearing headscarves in the workplace, but only if a ban on religious symbols is already in place.

[16:40:03] CNN's Erin McLaughlin joins me now. Talking about identity. This has a lot to do with that as well. Erin McLaughlin is in Brussels

with the very latest on that story.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Hala. The European Court of Justice taking the decision that private companies can ban headscarves

from their employees, but there are limitations to that ban. The ban has to be part of a broader systemic policy that applies to all religious

expressions by employees. Also, that it needs to apply to a legitimate aim.

And in this particular case, it was considered by the court, today, the aim of the company in question, which was a security company, was to present an

air of neutrality to its customers. The employee in question was a receptionist who wanted to wear the hijab. The court, though, saying that

the company should have made an effort to relocate this employee to another part of the company that was not client facing.

Now, a separate case that the court considered today ruled that it was not legal for a company to enforce a ban on its employees, pertaining to the

headscarf, specifically in response to a customer complaint. That that was not a legitimate aim. And legal experts are telling me that this decision

today will heavily influence company policy across the E.U.

GORANI: And is this the end of the road? I mean, are there sort of legal avenues for those who want to fight this ruling, to try to get it reversed?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, essentially, what the E.U. court is doing here is presenting guidelines, advice. It can then go back to the national courts

and the national courts in this case, in Belgium and France, take the ultimate decision. And we're seeing a variety of reaction to this, across

the continent, from far-right parties in support of this decision.

Keep in mind, this all comes at a very critical time for Europe, as you know, Hala. You're there covering the Dutch elections. There's also the

French elections. We heard from Francois Fillon earlier today, tweeting out, congratulating the court for this particular decision.

At the same time, though, we are also hearing from human rights organizations putting out statements, Amnesty International included. I'll

read you their statement, in part saying, "The court did say that employees are not at liberty to pander to the prejudices of their clients. But by

ruling that company policies can prohibit religious symbols on the grounds of neutrality, they have opened a back door to precisely such prejudice.

It is now for national governments to step up and to protect the rights of their citizens." Hala.

GORANI: All right. Erin McLaughlin in Brussels, thanks very much. This is THE WORLD RIGHT NOW.

Scotland bucked the trend to vote against Brexit, but how do Scots feel about a split from England? We'll be right back.


[16:45:21] GORANI: Back in London, Prime Minister Theresa May says Brexit will begin before the end of March. Mrs. May says it will be a defining

moment. Listen.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: We will be a strong self-governing, global Britain. With control once again over our borders

and our laws. And we will use this moment of opportunity to build a stronger economy and a fairer society.


GORANI: Well, we've been telling you about CNN's "My Freedom Day" and how countless kids across the globe are being inspired to fight modern-day

slavery. Well, the British Prime Minister seems to see it's an issue. Listen.


MAY: It is certainly the case that we will continue to prioritize the work that we do in relation to modern slavery and to supporting the victims of

this vile trade, but also breaking the criminals who are making so much money out of this terrible trade and out of the damage that and abuse that

they bring to individuals.


GORANI: Well, you may remember that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the Europe Union in the Brexit referendum, but not every Scot supports a

split from England, as a result. Diana Magnay has more from Edinburgh.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's shrouded in scaffolding, the RRS Discovery which sailed Captain Scott from Dundee to

Antarctica in 1901. Her masts dismantled, workmen tapping away at her aging bow to repair and restore, as Nicola Sturgeon chips away at a far-

more ancient structure, the 300-year-old union between Scotland and England.

In Scotland's 2014 independence referendum, Dundee was known as the yes city. Yes for a future outside of the U.K. and the rule of Westminster.

It was the first time that Martha Gardner ever voted, and she'd vote the same way now.

MARTHA GARDNER, DUNDEE, SCOTLAND RESIDENT: I've always been a yes vote, but I would say that the E.U. has played a big part in this. We've just

not been listened to. I think it's quite a big part of this. Because, you know, Theresa May is wanting a hard Brexit and doesn't seem to be taking

any of Scotland's opinions into the consideration.

MAGNAY (voice-over): But even here in bonnie Dundee, the spirit of patriotism burns both ways. For Scotland, and for a United Kingdom. Joyce

and Jack Ward are no voters in a yes town, Brexiteers, and staunch supporters of the Union.

JACK WARD, DUNDEE, SCOTLAND RESIDENT: I think Nicola Sturgeon is playing devil's advocate, quite honestly.


WARD: Because in my opinion, we can't stand on our own.

J. WARD: No.

WARD: We don't have the resources, quite honestly.

J. WARD: I don't think so.

WARD: And most of our trade, a lot of our trade goes to England.

J. WARD: Yes.

WARD: A lot goes to Europe, as well.

J. WARD: Yes.

WARD: But that's smaller than what goes to England.

J. WARD: Yes.

MAGNAY (voice-over): It's not far from Dundee to Edinburgh across the fork of Perth, from Dundee, the yes city, to the unionist Scottish capital.

MAGNAY (on camera): Scotland voted 45 to 55 percent in the first referendum. That's 45 percent yes for independence; 55 percent, no, let's

stay in the Union. The polls now are more evenly split. And of course, anything can happen over the course of a campaign, but what it does suggest

is that a new referendum would split Scotland pretty much down the middle in the same way that Brexit split Britain.

So for all this talk of Westminster building bridges across Brexit rifts, the fact that Nicola Sturgeon is even calling for Indyref 2 suggests that

it's not working.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Nicola Sturgeon of playing games with politics. But Scotland's quest for independence long predates

Sturgeon's Scottish National Party. Centuries of warfare centering around Edinburgh's historic and the Union, now a high-stakes political battle

which risks the breakup of the U.K. And one which, given the pressures of Brexit, Westminster may not have the energy to fight.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Edinburgh.


GORANI: Well, speaking of important elections as we continue to broadcast from right here in Amsterdam, more bad news for the conservative French

presidential candidate. Francois Fillon is being formally investigated now on several charges, including embezzlement of public funds. Melissa Bell

has that story from Paris.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: It was a day early in the end that Francois Fillon was placed under formal examination, really catching the

French press off guard.

Tomorrow, the Republican candidate was to either face charges or to be placed in the position of being a witness assisting with an investigation.

That would clearly have been his preferred option. In the end, Francois Fillon faces a number of charges, including embezzlement of public funds,

the misuse of company assets, and the failure to declare what he'd done to the authority, the deals with transparency in public life.

[16:50:14] This is a serious cloud over Francois Fillon's already-damaged campaign. He's managed to gather his fractious party around him, despite

the clouds so far. But many voters will now be heading to the polls in just 40 days' time with this question on their mind, can they vote for a

man who had clearly said during the Republican primary process that no presidential candidate should stand if he's under charges?

Now, that is now the case for Francois Fillon. He will be standing as a Republican candidate under that judicial cloud, facing this formal

investigation, a formal investigation that can now drag on for several months. The ball is in the court of his lawyers. It is up to them to

decide what happens next. And they have six months to reply, all of which suggests that Francois Fillon will enter this end of the campaign period

facing these charges, with this cloud still hanging over his head.

And in this very difficult third position in the polls, he's now well behind the far-right's Marine Le Pen and behind the Independent centrist,

Emanuel Macron, partly as a result of all that he's been facing on the judicial front.

Melissa Bell, CNN, in Paris.


GORANI: Thanks very much, Melissa. Coming up --


ELLA HURWORTH, STUDENT, HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL: I think that it's our generation's responsibility to really step up to the cause and promote

equality, promote freedom, in order to, you know, bring these victims justice.


GORANI: How one school in Hong Kong is raising awareness about stamping out slavery. We'll be right back.


GORANI: Artist Andrew Magnay uses the sand to craft his drawings. This one comes with a powerful message to mark CNN's "My Freedom Day," stop


Hello and welcome back to this special edition of the program. It is "My Freedom Day." We're broadcasting live from Amsterdam. It's the night

before a very important election here in the Netherlands. That's why you find me on a barge in Amsterdam tonight, in case you were wondering.

Anyway, back to "My Freedom Day." And students half a world away in Hong Kong are raising awareness about modern-day slavery. They're learning

about people their own age who may not be able to experience it.

Here's Kristie Lu Stout. She has our story from Hong Kong. Kristie?


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm at Hong Kong International School to mark "My Freedom Day," a student-led day of acting against global

slavery here. Students are reading books about modern-day slavery. They're making paper chains, posters, sending social updates, all about

raising awareness to end to this multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise.

Now, this is just one of a dozen schools all across Asia taking part in this activity. The students here also just got back from a two-week-long

service trips across the world, often involving working with populations vulnerable to human trafficking.

[16:55:04] Earlier, I spoke with Ella Hurworth, one of the student organizers of "My Freedom Day" in Hong Kong.

HURWORTH: So if you look at the victims' stories, their fundamental human rights are being violated daily. It's horrific. It's really horrific.

And I think that it's our generation's responsibility to really step up to the cause and promote equality, promote freedom, in order to, you know,

bring these victims justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we sensed through the week was a lack of vision.

STOUT (voice-over): "My Freedom Day" activities are taking place here in Hong Kong and across Asia, in cities like Tokyo, in New Delhi, in Mumbai,

as well as Jakarta.


the young people today are so much more engaged and passionate and aware of all the issues that are going on in the world and the fact that most of the

trafficking victims in this world are the same age as these kids. But for an accident or for circumstance, they could be these kids.

STOUT: And it's all happening here in Hong Kong and at dozens of other schools around the world, but this is just the start. This is the

beginning of a movement. It all begins today, March 14th.

CROWD: My freedom day.


GORANI: Thanks, Kristie.

Well, as we've been telling you, we're live from our election barge -- this is what we've affectionately been calling this boat on the canal in

Amsterdam -- ahead of a landmark vote in the Netherlands. Candidates are making their final pitches right the now. There's a live debate ongoing on

Dutch television.

The stakes couldn't be higher, not just for this country, but also for the European Union. Why are the eyes of the world trained on this particular


I mean, the Netherlands is a relatively small country. There are elections here that lead to coalition building. Geert Wilders, after all, the

firebrand far-right politician, has been in politics for 19 years. He's not exactly anti-establishment.

Well, the answer to that question is what happened in the U.K. with Brexit, what happened, also, in the United States last November with the election

of Donald Trump. The Netherlands is seen as the first test, the first litmus test, of this populist anti-establishment, anti-immigration fever

that has been sweeping the world.

Will it stop here in the Netherlands or will it continue on to further elections in France, elsewhere, and in Germany in the fall? We'll have the

answer very soon.

I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.