September 30 2010
After four months of negotiation, the Netherlands has formed a coalition government including the anti-Islam and anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV), headed by Geert Wilders. The party will not hold seats in the cabinet but has pledged to support the government in parliament. The coalition, which revealed its governing accords on Thursday, remains to be approved on Saturday at the meeting of the Christian Democrat party (CDA), the second party in the new coalition.
The effect of the PVV on government policy includes a move to ban the burqa in the country and to restrict immigration, ‘get tough’ on Islamic schools and ban headscarves for police and justice ministry staff. Both national and international news media have focused their attention on the policies banning the wearing of the burqa and the tightening of immigration laws. The immigration restriction will significantly decrease the number of non-western immigrants to the country, criminalize illegal immigration, and deport foreign criminals.
Preliminary polling in the Telegraaf suggests that 70-80% of the population supports the coalition’s platform in terms of immigration, integration and security. At the same time, both Muslim and non-Muslims have spoken against the coalition’s policies. Dutch News carries comments from the Turkish workers’ association TAN, worried “that different groups will be played off against each other”. Job Cohen, leader of the Labour party, which is not involved in the ruling coalition, called the headscarf ban “symbol politics”. He explained that in saying they will ban the headscarf the cabinet creates the impression that there is a problem to be solved, “but I have never seen a police officer in a headscarf”.