October 15 2010
As the new Dutch government is installed this week, considerable attention focuses on its policies towards Islam and immigration. The minority government coalition, consisting of the Liberal (VVD) and Christian Democrat (CDA) parties, is supported by Geert Wilders’ Freedom (PVV) party, which places Islam at the top of its agenda. New prime minister Mark Rutte denies a focus on Islam in the government, but the policy for the coalition has already been agreed upon, and Wilders’ influence is evident in the coalition’s plans to tighten immigration controls. Meanwhile, new defence minister Hans Hillen notes that Dutch diplomats will have to work harder to explain the country’s good intentions in Muslim countries, stating that “It will be our task to present an image…. that this cabinet isn’t biased or prejudiced in any way against Islam.”
Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) abandoned attempts to form a majority coalition in the town of Almere after it emerged the largest party in municipal elections March 3. No other party was willing to accept the party’s controversial agenda. As a result, the Freedom Party will stand in the opposition. The party also enjoyed success in the Hague during the recent elections, and local leader Sietse Fritsma announced that it is open for “all constructive proposals” from other parties in the city to form a ruling coalition.
Divisive issues preventing a coalition include the party’s demand for urban “commando” presence on the city’s streets, a headscarf ban in public buildings, and local tax cuts.
Earlier this week Wilders faced opposition from the mayor of the German town Monschau after spending the weekend in the region. Mayor Margareta Ritter said that the politician was not welcome in the town, as she was concerned that his presence would “tainted her town with the suspicion that it was sympathetic to his views”, DPA reports
A report investigating polarization and radicalization across the Netherlands has named Geert Wilders’ Freedom Pary (PVV) the ‘new radical right’, a party with a national democratic ideology but without extreme right wing roots. The study, completed by four researchers at Tilburg University, notes that the party’s views on Islamisation and non-Western immigrants appear to have a discriminatory nature, the result of favoring “the familiar”. The study identifies the Freedom Party’s organization as authoritarian, not democratic. Wilders, in a comment to ANP, called the report “scandalous”.