Society

The Netherlands: Wilders’ anti-immigration website off-target

17 December 2012
Presseurop
NRC Handelsblad

Geert Wilders’ anti-immigrant website “gives up the ghost without too much fuss,” announces NRC Handelslad. Launched in the spring of last year by the Party for Freedom (PVV), the site invited Dutch citizens to post complaints about the "nuisance" caused Central and Eastern European immigrants. As the daily recalls, it initially prompted a “worried response in the European parliament, an angry letter from a group of ambassadors, and embarrassment for the government.”

On December 13, the Second Chamber of the Dutch parliament debated a PVV proposal to block Polish workers’ access to the Dutch labour market, which offered an opportunity to evaluate the response to the anti-immigration website. Almost 40,000 complaints about “drunkenness, problems linked to the parking of vehicles, and the monopolising of jobs” by immigrants had been posted. However, a much larger number of complaints, some 135,000, had been submitted about the PVV and the website itself.

For NRC Handelsblad, the proposal on Polish workers —

has hardly any chance of being adopted, notwithstanding the fact that no one is denying the problems linked to the arrival of East Europeans, such as the fact that they take up a large number of jobs. On the other hand, they often do work that the Dutch are unwilling to do.

For the daily, the campaign led by the PVV has actually “drawn attention to the relatively successful integration of 300,000 immigrant workers from Eastern Europe.” Historian Wim Willems even argues that the website has positively contributed to this integration –

The site turned out to be a turning point. The media paid more attention to the positive aspects of economic immigration. And public opinion shifted following the launch of the site, which, for many Dutch people, was overly focused on discriminatory measures to exclude [immigrant workers].