Wilders plan to curb immigration ineffective

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The major shake-up of the Dutch immigrant system to curb the flow of non-Western nationals proposed by the recently-formed government has had much less effect than initially projected. Documents used during the formation process of the rightwing government – a minority coalition of free-market liberals VVD and the Christian Democrats CDA with parliamentary support from the far-right Freedom Party PVV – were revealed on Tuesday evening. The report outlines a number of proposals that would reduce immigration by a mere five percent, at most 15 percent.

This is a far cry from the 50 percent reduction of non-Western immigrants predicted by PVV leader Geert Wilders during the presentation of the programme for government. “The more we deviate from that 50 percent, the more difficult it will be for the PVV, and so, for the cabinet,” he said. In order to win Mr Wilders’ support as a parliamentary party, the government had promised to reform its immigration policy. It included replacing state subsidies for integration courses for immigrants with loans. But the cabinet’s main goal was to “control and curb” new immigration, especially by marriage. It also announced plans to ban the wearing of the Islamic face-covering veil in public, and to prohibit police officers and workers in judicial institutions from wearing Islamic headscarves.

In the report made public on Tuesday, nine specific measures taken from the concept programme for government were identified. “It’s expected that these measures will result in a five to ten percent reduction in the immigration flow,” the report says. The document was accompanied by an introductory letter written by the CDA justice minister at the time, Ernst Hirsch Ballin, dated 30 August 2010. While formation talks had been going on since the June poll with various combinations of parties, negotiations for a rightwing minority government between the three party leaders - Mark Rutte, Maxime Verhagen and Geert Wilders - began on 9 August.

Opposition parties said they were aghast on hearing the figures revealed in the report. Green Left MP Tofik Dibi sees two realities: “The world of the experts who present the facts to us and the world of Prime Minister Rutte, who gave a press conference together with Mr Verhagen and Mr Wilders. The gap between the two realities couldn’t be wider.”  

Since presenting their figures on stemming immigration, the Freedom Party has been queried about them on several occasions in parliament. Just two weeks, PVV MP Sietse Fritsma said in a parliamentary debate that he based his information on figures released by the justice ministry – the same figures that came to light on Tuesday evening.  

“Mr Wilders is not honest to his voters,” claims democrat party D66 MP Gerard Schouw. Socialist Party MP Sharon Gesthuizen is demanding an explanation. “The cabinet’s target on immigrant reduction won’t be met – not by a long shot. If it is, then I’m a Christmas tree,” she said.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide  

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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