As we previously observed, Dutch MP Geert Wilders has really turned the upcoming elections in the Netherlands upside down. The polls show a very tight race, but concerns have already been raised that even if Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) carries the day, they may not have enough support from other parties to form a governing coalition. Still, his hard line positions on immigration and crime have clearly drawn a lot of support across the country. Do you think the currently ruling Liberal Party (VVD) has noticed? That’s the impression I’m getting from the Prime Minister, who is suddenly talking tough to the immigrants in his country. (Daily Caller)
Mark Rutte, the liberal Dutch prime minister, made a surprising shift to the right Monday when he told immigrants to “act normal or leave” in an op-ed ahead of the general election.
Rutte and the Liberal Party (VVD) are neck and neck with Geert Wilders’ populist Freedom Party (PVV), with less than two months to go before the March 15 election. Rutte highlighted the “significance of Dutch values” in what many consider an attempt to steal voters from PVV.
“Discomfort will increase if people misuse our freedom, especially since they came to this country to enjoy those freedoms,” Rutte wrote. “I understand that people think: if you reject our country fundamentally, I’d rather see you go. I have the same feeling. Act normal or leave.”
Act normal or leave? Oh, my. That sounds like something which almost borders on being Trumpian, Mr. Prime Minister.
This is actually a problem for Rutte which has been simmering for a couple of years now. As the Irish Times reported last spring, more than half a decade of austerity problems which were largely spurred by the weakening Euro had already begun turning the tide of public sentiment against the Liberal Party. An increase in crime, particularly among immigrants, combined with concerns of increased terrorist activity solidified public opinion even more.
The poll also found that 52 per cent believe the Netherlands’ current asylum policy makes it too easy for terrorists to enter the country, while, leaving issues of security to one side, 45 per cent believe refugee policy in general should be “tightened up”.
Still, the public stance of the Prime Minister never seemed to shift all that much or acknowledge the concerns of his citizens. This opened the door for Geert Wilders to transition to being a major player in their politics and a potential replacement for Rutte. So now, with the date of the elections approaching, the Prime Minister is telling the immigrants to essentially shape up or ship out. Is this going to save his seat or will it be too little, too late?