Dutch PM lacks integration debate
Finance Minister Wouter Bos accussed Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenede of skirting the integration debate.
THE HAGUE—Prime Minister Balkenende (CDA) reacted with surprise that PvdA-leader Wouter Bos would accuse the CDA of lacking a debate on integration. Bos said Tuesday in the NRC Handelsblad that Balkenende had completely dropped the integration debate because he was afraid to talk about religion, or to speak out critically of religion.
In reaction Blakenede said: “The research institute of the CDA issued a solid rapport in December on integration. There is clearly discussion within my party.”
When asked if Bos’s comments would have an impact on the economic crisis negotiations being held this week, Balkenende said: “It has to do with substance. It would be appropriate for Bos to concentrate on business within the PvdA.”
The CDA-youth organization was also of the opinion that there was little debate on integration within the CDA.
On Saturday the PvdA will hold talks on the government's integration rapport. The rapport has led to emotionally charged criticism within the PvdA. The integration rapport is reputedly too nationalistic; looks at the problems of immigration and integration in a one-sided, simplistic way, and consistently incorporates a polarising “us-them-tone.”
PvdA criticism consists of 392 amendments from local party branches. PvdA party leadership used the amendments to re-work the integration rapport. For Bos the seriousness of the debate within his party demonstrates its strength. Bos: “More than any other party, we are a mirror of society.”
The PvdA contends that the CDA was fearful of coming forth with clearly developed ideas on integration, and subsequently left Rita Verdonk to wage an integration campaign in its name. Since Verdonk’s departure, the PvdA has taken over her role.
The CDA-fraction in the Tweede Kamer was critical of Bos: “It’s really a bit tasteless of Bos to try and divert attention away from the split in his own party in this way,” said Tweede Kamer-member Madeleine van Toorenburg (CDA). Her own party has had solid integration policies for “seven or eight years.” She didn’t identify with the view that her party avoided talking about integration “at all.”
According to Van Toorenburg, it’s the PvdA that’s totally indecisive on how to handle integration. “They really need to take care that they know what they’re doing first. Then they’ll become a party that knows where it stands, which would be really good for our society.”
NRC Handelsblad/Lila Lundquist/Expatica