Verdonk’s party is country’s second largest

28th April 2008, Comments 0 comments

A poll reveals that the Proud of the Netherlands would win 23 seats in the parliament if elections are held today.

28 April 2008

THE NETHERLANDS - A new opinion poll shows that Proud of the Netherlands (Trots op Nederland), the populist right-wing movement recently founded by former Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, is now the second biggest party in the Netherlands.

The poll, conducted by Maurice de Hond, reveals that if elections were held today the movement would win 23 seats in the 150-seat parliament. That is only 10 fewer than the current largest party, the Christian Democrats (CDA).

Another poll - conducted by Interview/NSS - however, found that the Labour Party (PvdA) would come second. Maurice de Hond notes that in the last 18 months, many voters have switched their political allegiances.

'Iron Lady' Rita Verdonk, known for her nationalist hard-line policies, launched her movement in Amsterdam in early April. Its central aim, she says, is to protect and revitalise the Dutch national character, which she considers threatened by immigrant, mostly Muslim, minorities.

At the launch, Verdonk hailed freedom of expression and freedom of religion as hallmarks of Dutch culture, as well as freedom from foreign control. She has also defended the right for populist anti-immigrant MP Geert Wilders to make his anti-Islam film, Fitna.

Proud of the Netherlands, like Wilders' Freedom Party, is not a traditional political party. It has no members and refuses state funding. Instead, Verdonk spends much of her time raising money. She also wants the number of parliamentary seats to be halved and civil service jobs slashed.

A former immigration minister, Verdonk has been keen to present herself as a political outsider. Like Pim Fortuyn, the populist politician shot dead in 2002, she shrewdly taps into the groundswell of discontent felt by a sizeable portion of the Dutch population that has turned its back on ‘traditional politics’ in The Hague.

[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]

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