Maxim: A governing PVV would be disastrous for the international reputation of the Dutch
PVV, the ‘Freedom Party’ of Geert Wilders, emerged as the third force in Dutch politics last week. Wilders wants to be a part of the government. But what if? Wilders’s party is controversial. His film Fitna, about Islam in the Netherlands, received international attention. And some time ago he dismissed Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan as a “total freak”. Will a government involving the PVV damage Dutch society and its international reputation?
Media culture student and member of UNSA Eliot Roden, from the USA, thinks something should be done, but isn’t sure what. “I don’t feel boycotting the Netherlands is the answer. I don’t reckon it will happen, either. Foreigners will know that the ideas of the PVV are not the ideas of the entire Dutch population. They won’t act differently towards the country. I hope young people will become more politically active, because I feel the PVV mostly represents the older population. Perhaps one way or the other, Wilders can be prevented from getting more power. Although at the moment, it’s not in our hands, is it?”
“I’m not afraid, I’m just annoyed”, says Austrian Heidi Maurer, who works at the Department of Political Science. “When Wilders talks about immigrants he’s also talking about us, the expats working at the university. But still, I don’t think that a government with the PVV will have that huge an impact on the academic world or on decision making at the European level.” On the other hand: “Immigration will be a hot topic in Dutch politics, and people all over the world will be watching to see what’s going to happen, how the Dutch are going to deal with this.”
Maurer continues about Belgium, where a Flemish party that wants to divide Belgium won the national elections last week. “The world is also focusing on that issue and on European level it will be more salient to see how Belgium deals with the upcoming EU Presidency, so it will change the focus of attention a bit.” She points to her own country, Austria, where far-right leader Jörg Haider was governor of Carinthia. “His freedom party wasn’t the biggest problem – it was the move from the conservative party and the public discourse to the right.”
The PVV coming to power will hurt the feelings of the Turkish community both in the Netherlands and in Turkey, says Frank Ali Khan Sullivan, a first-year European Law student who lived in Istanbul for three years. “Wilders creates a hostile environment for Muslims, which means that Turkish students just won’t come here anymore. They perceive Wilders’s point of view as a threat. The Turks are passionate people. Also, it will damage trade between the two countries. The Dutch–Turkish business association Hotiad will not be enthusiastic about the PVV. What Wilders said about Prime Minister Erdogan shows an obvious lack of respect and understanding. It’s one thing to disagree with someone, but it’s quite another to attack a person’s character. No, the PVV is not good for Holland, which is known for its pragmatic attitude and tolerance. There’s nothing tolerant about being anti-Islam.”
Wendy Degens, Cleo Freriks, Maurice Timmermans