Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Dutch government will take 'unprecedented measures to rein in immigration,' Wilders

Leader of the Dutch Christian party CDA Maxime Verhagen (L), leader of the Dutch liberal party VVD Mark Rutte (M) and leader of the Dutch right-wing party PVV Geert Wilders (R) present their new coaltion to the press on September 30, 2010 in The Hague.

Life under Shari'a isn't about race!

Name one country which is governed by Shari'a and people have rights!

Europe has to be protected from this.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A new Dutch minority government that could be formed as early as next week is planning to ban face-covering burqas and slash immigration, anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders said Thursday.

The proposed new administration is a coalition between the Liberal VVD party led by future Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the Christian Democratic Alliance. The two parties, which have 52 seats in the 150-seat parliament, will rely for support on the 24 seats held by Wilders and his Freedom Party.

Radio Netherlands:
So what did Mr Wilders get in return for supporting this minority cabinet? These are the main PVV points:

  • There will be a complete ban on burqas, and police and justice employees will not be allowed to wear headscarves;
  • Conditional passports for new immigrants - to be withdrawn if they commit crimes in the first five years;
  • The pension age will only be raised to 66 not 67;
  • An extra 2,500 police officers;
  • Animal police will be introduced. 500 officers will look after the welfare of animals in the Netherlands;
  • The duration of unemployment benefit payments will not be reduced;
  • Maximum speed on the motorway will be increased to 130 kilometres per hour;
  • The current smoking ban will be lifted for small cafés

How will it work? First of all, Geert Wilders' Freedom Party will not be part of the new cabinet, and so will not provide any ministers. The twelve ministers (down from the current 16) will be split evenly between the VVD and the CDA, and VVD leader Mark Rutte says the cabinet should be called Rutte-Verhagen I. The Freedom Party, for its part, will support the government in parliament.

This is a unique construction, with no precedent in Dutch politics. To achieve a stable minority government, the three parties have signed two different governing accords. One encompasses what all three parties have agreed to, and the other details what the VVD and CDA have agreed. Geert Wilders will not sign the second accord. However, he has agreed not to bring the government down over policies laid out in the agreement between the VVD and CDA.

Freedom Party input
What Wilders also gets, in addition to the points above, is stricter immigration and integration measures. Some measures, including the conditional passport for new citizens, may violate existing EU regulations. The agreement explicitly states it will try to find as much leeway as possible within existing treaties governing immigration and integration, and if need be, renegotiate the treaties. At the same time, the new cabinet will lobby to change EU guidelines.

The agreement calls for a significant decline in immigration.

A new Minister of Security will also oversee tougher law and order policies. The new cabinet will thus have a decidedly Freedom Party 'feel' in these areas.

Input from the left
But while the Freedom Party is politically on the right when it comes to immigration, its policies towards health care, care for the elderly and some social services are more at home on the left.

Here, Wilders has managed to minimise cuts in a number of areas. The VVD and CDA have agreed that the retirement age will only be raised to 66 instead of 67. Wilders wanted it to stay at 65. There will be investment in care for the elderly and unemployment benefits will not be further limited.

The Freedom Party also promotes animal rights. For the first time, this country will have a special police force just to protect animals. A number of other policies to combat cruelty to animals are part of the agreement.

There are many other measures the Freedom Party is pleased with. These include lifting the smoking ban for small cafés, building new roads, cutting the development aid budget and scaling back the budget for public broadcasting.

Not done
The cabinet is not a done deal - yet. The Christian Democrat members still have to approve the coalition agreement, which they're expected to do at a tense and crowded congress on Saturday. If the members vote yes, then the three parliamentary caucuses will approve the accord early next week. Finally, Queen Beatrix will ask Mark Rutte to form his new government, after which he will appoint his ministers. And during the week of 11 October, the new cabinet will pose for the traditional photograph with the queen, and finally be able to get to work.

The deal has aroused objections from some Christian Democrat lawmakers who don't want to work with Wilders. A Christian Democrat party convention on Saturday will decide whether to go ahead with the planned four-year alliance.

However, while Wilders has the toughest anti-immigrant views, both the VVD and Christian Democrats pledged before the elections to crack down on new arrivals, and the last Christian Democrat-led government also wanted to ban burqas.

The policy blueprint unveiled Thursday came after months of closed-doors negotiations following inconclusive June 9 national elections.

Rutte's VVD party emerged as the largest party, but Wilders' Freedom Party rose from nine seats to 24, underscoring a further shift from the Netherlands' long-held image as a bastion of tolerance that welcomes newcomers.

Wilders said he hoped that by toughening immigration regulations, the new government would slash the number of asylum seekers getting into the Netherlands by one-quarter and reduce by half what he called "non-Western immigrants."

The government said it plans to make it harder for immigrants already living in the Netherlands to bring other family members here and also would make it tougher for unskilled immigrants with little chance of finding work to move to the country.

"We are taking unprecedented measures to rein in immigration," Wilders said.

Those immigrants who do get in will have to pay for their own integration courses and could be kicked out if they do not complete them.

The policy document was presented just days before Wilders is scheduled to go on trial in Amsterdam on hate speech charges linked to his outspoken criticism of Islam, which he describes as a violent political ideology.

Dutch governments in the past have said they planned to ban full-face veils such as burqas, but have never pushed the policy into law.

In the meantime, France's Parliament has passed legislation banning Islamic veils such as burqas.

While the VVD and Christian Democrats are reliant on Wilders' support in parliament, they are at pains to say they do not share his anti-Islam stance.

"This Cabinet will stand up for our freedoms, including freedom of education and religion," Christian Democrat leader Maxime Verhagen said. "These freedoms are shared by everybody; men or women, young or old ... Christian or Muslim."

Rutte said he also planned to slash government spending by €18 billion ($24.6 billion) in coming years to help the Netherlands emerge from the global fiscal crisis with a stronger economy.


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