PVV Will Contest Only Two Local Elections

Geert Wilders’ PVV party will stand in only two cities in next year’s local elections. Wilders, who thinks the Koran should be banned and wants a halt to immigration, said the PVV planned to focus on the national and regional elections in 2011. ‘We want to be ready to rule so we need to be in the senate,’ he told ANP.

Although Wilders had been planning to field candidates in more locations, the party will run only in Almere and the Hague. Wilders told ANP that the strategy is an attempt to avoid the fate of the late Pim Fortuyn’s anti-Islam LPF party in 2002, which the party took 26 seats in parliament but collapsed due to inexperience and infighting.

Political parties have criticized Wilders’ decision to largely ignore the local elections. Femke Halsema, leader of the leftwing Groenlinks party, told Telegraaf, “He takes part in the European election although he doesn’t believe in it and now he won’t take part in the cities where he says he wants to solve problems.” But Maurice de Hond describes Wilders’ decision as ‘very clever’ in electoral terms as making mistakes in local councils could cost the party in parliamentary elections, he tells Telegraaf.

Who Will Be The People’s Champion Now?

{We ask who is waiting in the wings to take up the populist banner for the general election in November now that Leefbaar Nederland and the LPF are on the way out.} It looked as if the traditional political parties in the Netherlands were in trouble in the early part of the decade. After eight years of the consensus driven ‘Purple’ coalition between Labour (PvdA), Liberals (VVD) and Democrat D66, ordinary people in the street felt locked out from the corridors of power in The Hague – and they were ready to force themselves back in. The Trojan horse was to be a new kind of party, Leefbaar Nederland (Liveable Netherlands – LN). Founded in 1999 by Jan Nagel and Henk Westbroek of the successful Leefbaar parties in Hilversum and Utrecht, LN wasn’t going to be fettered by either left or right-wing philosophies. The main elements of its programme for the general election in May 2002 were: more of a say for ordinary people (at the expense of the traditional parties); less bureaucracy; and a more balanced (selective) asylum policy. Having the outspoken ‘professor’ and writer Pim Fortuyn at the helm significantly increased the party’s appeal. Early predictions were that LN could win up to 20 seats. Pim factor But everything went wrong three months before the election when the party executive sacked Fortuyn after he called for an end to immigration and for the removal of the anti-discrimination clause from the Constitution. Prosecutor Fred Teeven replaced Fortuyn as leader. LN won two seats while Fortuyn’s new political party, Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF), won 28 of the 150 seats in parliament. Although Fortuyn was assassinated nine days before the election, his party joined a centre-right coalition in triumph. The celebrations were short-lived. The government collapsed ignominiously 87 days later due to LPF infighting. The LPF managed to hang on to eight seats in the subsequent election in January 2003. Leefbaar Nederland lost both its seats. Opinion polls have consistently suggested the LPF, which has been reduced to six seats by further wrangling, will join LN on the political scrap heap after the election next November. Hit by a serious debt problem, LN has decided to dissolve; the LPF has chosen to fight on and appoint a “big name” to lead its election campaign. Yet it faces competition from a host of other groups and personalities who hope to capture the ‘people’s vote’. Here’s a rundown of the main contenders: – Geert Wilders – his hair has a life of its own A Conservative with an striking coiffure, Wilders (42) from the south-eastern city of Venlo presents himself as the natural successor to Pim Fortuyn – the new voice of the common man and woman of the Netherlands. Wilders is probably the second best known Dutch politician internationally after Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Both are former members of the Liberal Party (VVD), both are critics of fundamentalist Islam, both are against immigration from Muslim countries, and both had to go into hiding after Muslim Mohammed Bouyeri murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh in November 2004. Two months before the killing, Wilders split with the Liberals over the party support for EU-accession talks with Turkey. He recently set up the Partij van de Vrijheid (Party of the Freedom) to contest the election in November. As has occurred frequently since Leefbaar Nederland rocked political certainties in the Netherlands, opinion polls were wildly enthusiast about the latest political contender. Wilders was tipped to win anything up to 30 seats. More recent surveys suggest he may get eight seats – still impressive for a new party. – Marco Pastors – ‘Pim’ stripe suits are his trademarl Given to wearing pinstripe suits in imitation of Fortuyn, Marco Pastors, 40, is a man with a mission – to bring the ‘Rotterdam approach’ – law & order, and compulsory integration for immigrants to the rest of the country. Pastors took over the leadership of Leefbaar Rotterdam after Fortuyn was murdered. The Fortuyn revolution began in the local elections two months before the national poll. Although Leefbaar Rotterdam was the largest group on the city council, Pastors never stopped seeing conspiracies and imagining the established parties were out for revenge. One sign of this, as far as he is concerned, was when he was forced off the city’s executive council for speaking his mind about Muslim immigrants, despite an agreement not to. A second sign was the local election in March this year when the Labour Party beat Leefbaar Rotterdam into second place. Pastors effectively abandoned any responsibility for the future government of the city. He has set his mind to continue the Fortuyn revolution on the national stage with a new political party. He is known to have approached several like minded Fortuynists, including the LPF’s Joost Eerdmans and former immigration minister Hilbrand Nawijn (ex-LPF). But his attempts to lure Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk away from the Liberals have failed so far. Details about the new party remain sketchy. – Hilbrand Nawijn – often pleased with himself The head of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) from 1988 to 1996, Nawijn became the LPF’s immigration minister in the short-lived 2002 coalition government. He introduced the uncompromising approach to immigration and asylum that Verdonk now follows. Consequently, Nawijn took great pleasure in calling on Verdonk to strip Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali of her Dutch nationality for lying about her name. When not scowling about things he objects to, like lying asylum seekers, Nawijn is usually seen sporting a self-satisfied smirk. Elected to parliament with a huge personal vote in 2003, despite being on the bottom of the LPF list of candidates, he left the LPF in January 2005 in a row about his close ties with Filip Dewinter, leader of the far-right Vlaams Belang party in Belgium. His new party, Groep Nawijn, won five seats on Zoetermeer city council in March. However, it emerged in late July that Nawijn was one of the candidates being considered as the election leader for the LPF. Nawijn confirmed he was interested. LPF survivors Gerard van As – rebranded LPF will survive Most commentators – and opinion polls – suggest the LPF is washed up. The countless internal rows, frequent leadership changes and occasional mad-cap antics of its MPs have destroyed its credibility. That is the majority view. There is a minority opinion, held by a handful of LPFers, that the 2006 election can be a new beginning. Current leader Gerard van As has said the party will soon come with a new name and exciting new leader who will thrill the electorate. According to reports the ‘new’ name for the Lijst Pim Fortuyn is likely to include the name Fortuyn. And one of the three candidates for the leadership position is Nawijn, who left the LPF because his colleagues didn’t like him hanging around with the leader of the right-wing Vlaams Belang. Van As may be confident the LPF will survive; some of the other MPs are not. – Justice spokesman Joost Eerdmans is being courted by more than one suitor. – Matt Herben, twice called upon to lead the LPF and twice ditched for being ineffective, has faded into the background. – MP Max Hermans is also being wooed by other parties, and his personal LPF website no longer works. – MP Margot Kraneveldt resigned her seat in early July and rejoined the Labour Party. Her replacement, Gonny van Oudenallen, was expelled by the LPF over questions about her financial dealings while a councillor in Amsterdam. Van Oudenallen is now sitting as an independent, unconcerned by the prospect of losing her seat in November. A snap-shot of the main contenders for Fortuyn’s crown. The Dutch public will have to decide which, if any, are worthy to wear it.

Verdonk Zet Drie Imams Het Land Uit Van Onze Redactie Politiek

THE HAGUE – Three radical imams from Al-Fourkaan Mosque in Eindhoven have been declared undesirable aliens. Minister Verdonk van Vreemdelingenzaken wants them to leave the country because they incite hatred and permit jihadists to operate in their mosque. It has not been determined whether more imams will be declared undesirable. The General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) has been watching ten radical mosques. Just like in the Al-Fourkaan mosque the ideology of Salafism is promoted, a strict movement in Islam that fights against Western society. Verdonk decided yesterday after consultation with minister Remkes (home affairs) to withdraw the residence permits of the two imams. They have rejected the application for lengthening of the permit of a third imam. The imams will be declared undesirable aliens, because they pose a danger to public safety and/or national security. {(continued below in Dutch)} Volgens de Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst (AIVD) laten de imams duidelijk hun afkeuring blijken over de westerse samenleving en dragen ze bij aan de radicalisering van moslims in Nederland. Daarmee zetten ze moslims ertoe aan om zich van de Nederlandse samenleving te isoleren. Een van de imams is afkomstig uit Bosni_, een ander uit Kenia en de derde persoon zou uit Egypte komen. De Tweede-Kamerfracties van VVD, CDA, en LPF zijn opgetogen over het ongewenst verklaren van de imams. ,,Dit is goed nieuws, hier zaten we na 2 november (de moord op Theo van Gogh, red.), op te wachten”, aldus LPF-Kamerlid Joost Eerdmans. ,,Dit is uitstekend”, reageert CDA’er Van Fessem. ,,Eindelijk laat het kabinet zijn tanden zien”, stelt VVD-woordvoerster Griffith. Burgemeester A. Sakkers is ,,verrast” door het voornemen van Verdonk. Tot nu toe heeft hij geen enkel signaal van mogelijk gevaar ontvangen. ,,De uitzetting en afwijzing moeten op stevige feiten berusten, wil de minister voor deze maatregel kiezen”, aldus Sakkers. ,,Kloppen de feiten inderdaad, dan is het in het belang van de moskeegemeenschap in Eindhoven dat deze maatregel genomen wordt.’

Dutch Muslims Find A Voice – Of Reason?

The establishment of a political party to represent Muslims in the Netherlands is as welcome as it is overdue. But it also entails very real risks. The announcement by columnist Mohammed Jabri that moves are afoot to launch a political party for Dutch Muslims by the beginning of summer should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed events in the Netherlands in recent years. The Muslim Democratic Party (MDP) could be a real force for good if it plays a positive role. It should forthrightly defend aspects of Muslim life that are worth defending; help spread understanding and acceptance of Muslims among the native Dutch and vice versa; and perhaps most importantly, expose as a lie the convenient myth that Muslims are the root of all that is wrong or bad in the Netherlands today. On the other hand, if the MDP fails to get off the ground, embroils itself in extremist rhetoric or suffers the internal disputes that have set the anti-immigration LPF on the way to an agonisingly slow self-destruction, the consequences would be terrible. Politics would be seen by many in the Muslim community as a dead-end, leaving imams and radical thugs to represent the community. Already there are daily reports of young Muslim men – a minority, but an active one – in the major cities who look on the native Dutch as the enemy and fair game for crimes of theft. It is common for unveiled women, both Muslim and native Dutch, in parts of Amsterdam to be branded “whores” and “sluts” by self-righteous Muslims. But giving Muslims a real voice on the political stage – and who knows, perhaps a seat at the Cabinet table – would go a long way to helping Muslims to look on Dutch society as their society also. A Muslim party would have real potential: there are an estimated one million Muslims in the Netherlands and the number is growing. Muslims and Islam are the topics of the hour as a decidedly one-sided debate rages about how far Muslims should be willing – and according to some critics, forced – to integrate into Dutch society. Islam’s chief Dutch critics in Parliament, Geert Wilders and Hilbrand Nawijn, are vying with each other for the title of “Champion of Liberal Democracy” who will lead a modern day reconquista to compel Muslims here to become Dutch or get out. There is no coherent voice on the Muslim side to represent the other side of the case. We hear daily from Muslim clerics who have rightly avoided getting into politics proper. And occasionally the Arab European League (AEL) issues a statement, but it seems to be more concerned about the situation in Iraq and the Palestinian issue than about what is going on in the Netherlands. Echoing the wider-scale tragedies in those parts of the world, the brutal murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh last November has brought home to people in the Netherlands the damage that even one wannabe martyr can inflict. The State security service AIVD has estimated that there are 100 to 200 extremists in the Netherlands prepared to use violence to defend Islam. But for all their apparent zeal, they remain an unrepresentative minority within the Dutch Muslim communities. And in turn these communities – Turkish, Moroccans, Iraqis, Afghans, Somalis and others – are seriously under represented in the Lower House of Parliament. The Muslims that have made the step into politics have done so under the banner of one or other of the main Dutch parties. Since their parties have been falling over themselves since 2002 to prove they can dish out tough love to Muslims, Muslims have not surprisingly lost interest. The need to balance the political scales was reinforced at the start of January when MP Nawijn – the first minister for Immigration and Integration from 2002 to 2003 – said that Muslim schools should be banned. None of the established political parties uttered any semblance of protest. Our erstwhile champions of liberal freedoms didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with Nawijn’s assertion that the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion should only apply to Christian and Jewish schools – because Dutch society, he said, was a Judeo-Christian one. He forgot to mention that until Indonesia got its independence from the Netherlands in the 1940s, Islam was the biggest religious group in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. And Nawijn also went so far as to say integration was a waste of time, Muslims had to be made to assimilate. Again his colleagues in parliament didn’t bat an eye lid. He simply ignored the rights and views of the Muslims living here now. Instead, Nawijn – who is trying to ensure a political life for himself after the inevitable demise of the LPF – is flirting with the Vlaams Belang, the successor to the Flemish party that was banned in Belgium for being racist. Jabri and the others setting up the MDP have a right to be scathing about this sort of thoughtless anti-Muslim bias which seems to dominate present political debate in the Netherlands. But let’s hope the MDP chooses the high road and decides to play a positive role. To take the Nawijn-Vlaams Belang road might prove popular in the short-term, but ultimately it would be a dead end and everyone would lose out.