Dutch politician Geert Wilders abandons plans for ‘Nexit’ and Koran ban to seal


Dutch politician Geert Wilders abandoned his plans for ‘Nexit’ and a ban on the Koran in order to strike a coalition deal and finally form a government, reports say.

In an agreement published on Thursday, the coalition of four parties said they will implement the country’s ‘strictest-ever’ asylum policy by opting out of European Rules – setting up a clash with Brussels before even taking office.

According to Dutch reports, Wilders – a far-right populist and long-time euro-sceptic – was prepared to sacrifice ‘just about everything’ for a tougher immigration regime.

This included his own chances of being Prime Minister, Dutch News reported.

Critics would argue that pans such as taking The Netherlands out of the European Union (aka Nexit) and a ban on the Koran were never likely to become law.

Dutch politician Geert Wilders (pictured on Thursday) abandoned his plans for 'Nexit' and a ban on the Koran in order to strike a coalition deal and finally form a government, reports say

Dutch politician Geert Wilders (pictured on Thursday) abandoned his plans for ‘Nexit’ and a ban on the Koran in order to strike a coalition deal and finally form a government, reports say

In an agreement published on Thursday, the coalition of four parties (leaders pictured together on Thursday) said they will implement the country's 'strictest-ever' asylum policy by opting out of European Rules - setting up a clash with Brussels before even taking office

In an agreement published on Thursday, the coalition of four parties (leaders pictured together on Thursday) said they will implement the country’s ‘strictest-ever’ asylum policy by opting out of European Rules – setting up a clash with Brussels before even taking office

Nevertheless, Wilders’ shock election victory in 2023 came after he campaigned on a platform that included such hard-line policies.

The 60-year-old’s PVV party won more than 23 percent of the vote and 37 of the Dutch parliament’s 150 seats – suggesting such plans are popular among some a large portion of the Dutch electorate.

It is reported that Wilders’ put these policies aside – and his ambition of becoming Prime Minister – in order to form the four-party coalition announced on Thursday that said it would implement its ‘strictest-ever’ asylum policy.

A 26-page coalition agreement finally emerged after six months of gruelling talks between four parties following Wilders’ victory last year. 

The parties said they would file a request to the European Commission for an opt-out on European asylum policy ‘as soon as possible’. People without a valid residence permit will be deported ‘by force if necessary,’ said the report. 

It also said it would strengthen the country’s borders. 

‘An opt out clause for European asylum and migration policies will be submitted as soon as possible to the European Commission,’ the coalition says in its pact.

‘Concrete steps will be taken towards the strictest ever entry rules for asylum and the most comprehensive ever package to control migration,’ the agreement said.

‘This will definitely make the Netherlands less attractive for asylum seekers,’ Wilders said after the plans were presented. ‘People in Africa and the Middle East will start thinking they might be better off elsewhere.’ 

Speaking to France’s AFP news agency after clinching the coalition deal, Wilders said: ‘We will try to get a so-called opt-out for asylum, as the Danish have. That might take years if it is successful anyway.’

The 26-page coalition agreement emerged Thursday after six months of gruelling talks between four parties following the stunning election victory by Wilders, and long-time Euro-sceptic and leader of the far-right PVV party - who made immigration a core issue of his campaign. Pictured: Asylum seekers arrive at a shelter in The Netherlands last year

The 26-page coalition agreement emerged Thursday after six months of gruelling talks between four parties following the stunning election victory by Wilders, and long-time Euro-sceptic and leader of the far-right PVV party – who made immigration a core issue of his campaign. Pictured: Asylum seekers arrive at a shelter in The Netherlands last year

The coalition parties said they would file a request to the European Commission for an opt-out on European asylum policy 'as soon as possible.' People without a valid residence permit will be deported 'by force if necessary,' said the report. Pictured: Asylum seekers are seen arriving at a registration centre in Ter Apel, The Netherlands on April 26, 2024

The coalition parties said they would file a request to the European Commission for an opt-out on European asylum policy ‘as soon as possible.’ People without a valid residence permit will be deported ‘by force if necessary,’ said the report. Pictured: Asylum seekers are seen arriving at a registration centre in Ter Apel, The Netherlands on April 26, 2024

Denmark negotiated a deal to exclude the country from being bound by common EU asylum policies and the new Dutch government plans to ask the European Commission for the same as soon as possible.

But Wilders admitted that it could take ‘years’ to fulfil its pledge to opt-out of the EU asylum system.

He said that in the short-term, the new Right-wing government would aim to use Dutch law to restrict what he called an ‘influx of asylum-seekers’.

‘What we have today in our agreement is really the most tough anti-asylum (policy) ever being implemented in the Netherlands,’ he said. 

He also vowed to implement border controls to enforce the stricter asylum policy.

The plans are likely to be met with pushback from Brussels.

EU countries have already agreed on their migration pact and opt outs are usually discussed in the negotiating phase, instead of after-the-fact.

A European Commission spokesman seemed to pour cold water over a potential opt-out, saying on Thursday: ‘You cannot opt out of EU legislation… We are working on the basis of existing treaties and existing legislation.’

But the spokesman, Eric Mamer, added: ‘We will wait to see what a possible new Dutch government will formally propose.’

The Netherlands would join Hungary and Poland’s former nationalist government in challenging EU migration policy.

Labour migration would also be curbed, and admittance of foreign students to Dutch universities will become stricter, the coalition parties said.

Workers from outside the EU who do not have specific knowledge or expertise would need a working permit and recruiting agencies will face stricter regulation.

The Dutch coalition says it would also strive to limit free movement for people from countries joining the EU in the future. 

(Left to right) Dutch party leaders Geert Wilders (PVV), Dilan Yesilgoz (VVD), Caroline van der Plas (BBB) and Pieter Omtzigt (NSC) pose for a group photograph during the presentation of the main lines agreement for a new cabinet, in the Hague, the Netherlands, 16 May 2024

A poll of 27,000 people by the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf found that Wilders’ new coalition was being warmly welcomed.

Comments included ‘finally, common sense’, ‘enough with the extreme-Left fantasy reality’ and ‘we have been tolerant far too long to those who are not tolerant!’

However, Tech industry association FME, representing firms including semiconductor industry powerhouse ASML, said it was concerned such immigration measures will make it difficult for tech firms to hire workers they need.

According to its most recent figures, The Netherlands saw over 403,000 immigrants arrive in the country in 2022, while 179,000 emigrated – a net migration of 223,000.

This was a sharp rise from 2021, and its highest rate on record.

The majority of 2022 migrants to the country arrived from other European nations (around 257,000 people), while the second largest share (around 70,000) was from Asia. The figures show that 25,000 people came from Africa in 2022.

On foreign policy, the parties commit to keep the Netherlands as a ‘constructive partner’ in the EU and support Ukraine ‘politically, militarily, financially, and morally.’

It will also make it legally binding to spend at least 2 percent of Dutch gross domestic product on defence, in line with NATO agreements, it said.

More controversially, the 26-page coalition agreement – titled ‘hope, courage and pride’ – also calls to examine the idea of moving the Dutch embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians, but most governments avoid putting embassies there to avoid prejudging the outcome of negotiations for a lasting peace.

‘Taking into account solutions to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and diplomatic interests, we will examine when the embassy can be moved to Jerusalem at an appropriate time,’ said the report. 

Wilders admitted that this too would take time.

‘We are making a survey, so it’s not going to happen tomorrow… but I hope it will not be in a few years’ time either,’ he told France’s AFP news agency.

‘It will be a very happy day when that happens… it’s historic that it has a place in the coalition agreement,’ he added.

Asylum seekers are seen at an application centre in Ter Apel, Netherlands, on April 2, 2023

Asylum seekers are seen at an application centre in Ter Apel, Netherlands, on April 2, 2023

On climate change, the coalition said it would stick to internationally agreed goals, but would not add any national restrictions on planet-warming emissions.

Offshore gas production in the North Sea would be increased, while the government would continue with plans to build four nuclear reactors in the coming decade.

Plans will be financed with 14 billion euros in spending cuts until 2028, including cuts of 2.5 billions euros to development aid, a billion euros on government salaries and 100 million euros on the public broadcaster’s budget.

The deal brings together Wilders’ PVV with outgoing prime minister Mark Rutte’s centre-right VVD, the new NSC party and farmers’ protest party BBB in a coalition with a strong majority of 88 seats in the 150-seat Lower House.

With the broad agreement reached, an independent intermediary will now be tasked with forming the cabinet of ministers, a process that is expected to take at least another month.

All eyes are now on who will replace Rutte, who is almost certain to be tapped as the new NATO secretary general. 

The parties have still not agreed on who will be prime minister of the European Union’s fifth-largest economy.

They appointed civil servant Richard van Zwol as the so-called ‘formateur’ who will oversee the formation of a cabinet, but he is not the intended PM candidate.

The main contender looks to be former education and interior minister Ronald Plasterk, who also played a key role in overseeing the initial talks.

In March, the four parties agreed to aim for a partially technocratic cabinet made up of 50 percent politicians and 50 percent from outside politics.

Wilders himself has already reluctantly agreed to give up his dream of becoming prime minister amid widespread unease over his anti-Islam, anti-European views. 

But since the election, support for the PVV and Wilders has only increased, surveys suggest, as voters voice frustration at the slow pace of talks.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks to the press today in The Hague

Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks to the press today in The Hague

The far-Right has gained in elections across Europe but has struggled to translate votes into power as other parties refuse to work with them.

‘It’s a worrisome day. We now have a radical Right-wing party under Wilders that finds itself at the centre of power in the Netherlands,’ said opposition leader Frans Timmermans from the Greens-Left alliance on Wednesday.

But Wilders told reporters it was a ‘historic’ day that his far-right PVV Freedom Party was now in government – ‘at the centre of power’. 

‘We are writing history today… the sun is going to shine again in the Netherlands,’ said Wilders.

‘Do not forget: I will become prime minister of the Netherlands one day. With the support of even more Dutch,’ Wilders posted earlier this year. ‘If not tomorrow, then the day after tomorrow. Because the voices of millions of Dutch will be heard!’



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