AMSTERDAM—The Netherlands could have a new Pim Fortuyn on its hands, as outcast MP Geert Wilders called Tuesday for a five-year ban on people from Turkey and Morocco immigrating to the Netherlands.
Wilders is also calling for an immediate ban on all non-western immigrants who want to join their families in the Netherlands.
He claims that problems with integration in the Netherlands are so “immense and acute” that action must be taken now. “All attention must be focused on the immigrants who already live here,” Wilders said.
The “right-wing conservative” said immigrants who have Dutch passports should be deported and deprived of their Dutch citizenship if they are not prepared to learn Dutch.
The same applies to those who commit crimes or disturb public order. Wilders also said Islamic imams who incite hatred or violence should be deported and deprived of Dutch citizenship, newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported.
The MP is an independent in the Lower House of Parliament, Tweede Kamer, after turning his back recently on the Liberal VVD when the party tried to curtail his right-wing statements.
His comments about immigration call to mind anti-immigrant politician Pim Fortuyn who claimed the Netherlands was full and demanded that Dutch borders to be closed to new immigrants. He was shot and killed by animal rights activist Volkert van der Graaf on 6 May 2002.
Van der Graaf claimed he killed Fortuyn to protect the weaker groups in society.
Before his death, Fortuyn garnered significant public support for his views. His populist LPF political party won a hold in the coalition government in the 15 May 2002 election.
Infighting between two LPF ministers led to the collapse of the government before the end of the year.
And while Wilders still has a long way to go before gaining the heights achieved by Fortuyn, recent polls have indicated he is attracting strong voter support. A Maurice de Hond survey indicated on 14 September that his one-man party could win 12 seats if an election was held now.
The survey also found that 81 percent of respondents agreed with Wilders’ proposal that radical mosques should be banned and radical imams deported. Wilders is also opposed to Turkey’s entry to the European Union, a stance that gained 39 percent support from respondents.
Wilders also claims the government is soft on crime. He has proposed that repeat offenders and violent criminals be given a life sentence if convicted for a third time. They should also lose the right for time off for good behaviour.
Police should spend less time fining petty crimes such as light speeding offences, the MP insists.
Wilders would inject more money into Dutch healthcare, admitting he is particularly concerned by the reported lack of care in nursing homes. He said the funding worth EUR 3.8 billion could be freed up by scrapping the overseas development budget.
“Helping Africa is splendid, but safety and healthcare problems in our own country deserve priority,” he said.
Despite the fact that Wilders is doing well in opinion polls, he does not initially intend to seek support in Parliament for his plans. He wants first to stimulate discussion and later see if there is majority backing, hoping for support from the LPF and some