Geert Wilders was beaten, but at the cost of fuelling racism in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the defeat of Geert Wilders’ anti-EU, anti-immigration, anti-Islam Freedom party is a pyrrhic victory. The cost of this victory was that the country’s centre-right party appropriated the rhetoric of Wilders to beat him. Mark Rutte, who leads the VVD party, which won the largest number of seats in the election, talked of “something wrong with our country” and claimed “the silent majority” would no longer tolerate immigrants who come and “abuse our freedom”.

Rather than challenge racists, Rutte has boosted their confidence, pouring arsenic into the water supply of Dutch politics. He’s been happy to play the tough guy – as prime minister in the last week of the election campaign Rutte burnished his populist credentials through a fractious dispute with Turkey.

He calculated it was in the interests of the Dutch prime minister to be tough on Turkey, and in the interests of the Turkish president to be tough on the Netherlands. He happily sparked a mini-international crisis for the sake of votes. Rutte said stopping Wilders was about stopping the “wrong sort of populism”. [572 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 367 votes] If you start from an axiomatic position that all immigration is good, you can write this kind of article, which talks of the Greens as ‘good’ and the PVV as ‘bad’ without actually discussing the issues. Such articles are completely meaningless if you don’t share that axiomatic belief.

Also, being anti-immigration is not racist. Wilders is borderline, to be fair, but it is the constant painting of anyone who doesn’t support open door immigration as racist and xenophobic that devalues the term so people will vote for actual racists these days.

[2ND 266] The refugee migration crisis has increased tensions in many EU countries. This is mainly due to the feeling that governments have lost the ability to control their borders.

The Schengen arrangements are facing an existential threat as many countries are wanting to pull out of this.

[3RD 226] The writer has got the wrong end of the stick. Or he simply wishes to stir things up. The underlying issue in the Dutch handling of the spat with Turkey is the split allegiance of people with dual nationality, who in the case of the Netherlands have the nationality of this country yet carry out a very aggressive referendum campaign that has nothing to do with the Netherlands but has all to do with Turkey, the country whose nationality they choose not to drop.

It’s like Enoch Powell predicted: instead of immigrants leaving their cultural and political baggage at home and assimilating, they drag the cultural and political baggage into their new host countries. In the case of Turkey, the issue is even more hypocritical, as Turkey does not allow any foreign political rallies or campaigns, yet demands that countries like the Netherlands and Germany allow Turkish government ministers to campaign there. Demanding the abolition of dual nationality is a logical argument and has nothing to do with racism.

[4TH 211] oh, change the record will you? this one’s nearly worn out.

[5TH 209] Claiming there’s ‘something wrong with our country’ isn’t appropriating the language of the far right – it’s a statement of the bleeding obvious. So long as liberals/left feel the need for an unlimited supply of cheap labour to satisfy their corporate paymaster’s demands and sticks their heads in the sand over popular disquiet people like Wilders, Le Pen, Trump and Farage will prosper.

[6TH 173] Wilders, Le Pen and others who are branded by the Guardian as “racist” and “far-right” are simply arguing for citizens to be prioritised in their own countries, for immigrants to be accepted in sensible numbers, and for newcomers to assimilate. To me, this doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Having worked so hard to remove authoritarian religion from Europe, we are at risk of seeing it return. Ironically, history may judge these populists to be defending liberalism, through their opposition to theocracy.

Yes, Wilders was beaten, and Le Pen likely will as well, but they now represent significant parts of the population in their home countries. They should not be ignored. [Guardian Cif] Read more

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