The Hague (AFP) - Populist anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders was Monday named Dutch politician of the year in a television poll that came on the heels of his conviction for discrimination.
The 53-year-old charismatic leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) got 26 percent of the 40,000 votes cast in the poll conducted by NPO1 public television.
"I thank the Dutch who elected me the politician of 2016," Wilders said in a tweet. His party's fortunes have been steadily rising in the approach to legislative elections in March.
A December 11 survey by the respected Maurice de Hond Institute found that if elections were held now, the PVV would pick up 36 out of the 150 seats in the lower house of parliament, making it the biggest single political group.
It is the fourth time Wilders has been chosen as Dutch politician of the year thrice. His previous wins were in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
In a ruling earlier this month, Wilders was found guilty of discrimination against Moroccans but acquitted of hate speech over remarks he made at an election rally in March 2014.
He had asked supporters whether they wanted "fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands." When the crowd shouted back "Fewer! Fewer!" a smiling Wilders answered: "We're going to organise that."