ECRE member, Dutch Council for Refugees (DCR) is very concerned over populist far-right gains in the parliamentary elections and sees broad political failure to address challenges and provide solutions in the area of migration and asylum.

The Freedom Party (PVV) led by the populist far-right politician Geert Wilders took 37 out of 150 seats in the Dutch parliamentary elections on 22 November. PVV, campaigning on ending migration to the Netherlands, banning mosques and the Quran and slashing Dutch payments to the European Union and block the entrance of any new members including Ukraine is now larger than labour/Green coalition with 25 seats and the conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte with 24 seats. According to an editorial from the Dutch outlet NRC (translated): “The rise of the PVV, and also of NSC [New Social Contract described as anti-establishment], should come as no surprise. The gains of the two are a direct result of years of erosion of ideological politics” pointing to years of disappointment with established party’s but also pointing out how (translated): “Already at the tail end of the campaign, it could be seen that the flirtation of party leader Dilan Yesilgöz with the PVV and the playing with fire by putting the theme of migration at the center of the campaign, had exploded in the face of the former liberals. Voters are not crazy, and those who are actually against migration and against Europe turned en masse to the party that has been successfully exploiting that issue for almost twenty years: the PVV. The VVD made Wilders, who had been forced to sit on the sidelines for years under Rutte, politically relevant again by offering him the space to participate in government and to give the campaign agenda as a gift”. Wilders is now faced with the task of forming a majority coalition of a minimum of 76 seats and with the most obvious choice would be an alliance with NSC bringing the combined number of seats to 81 but commentators suggest that could involve difficult talks over months. Wilders may have options to seek a broader coalition while the Green/Labour left-wing bloc seems to have ruled out cooperation the VVD said it was not ruling out a coalition.

DCR put out a statement on 23 November acknowledging that segments of the Dutch population are: “concerned about the number of asylum seekers and what they see as the high pressure this puts on facilities in the Netherlands”. The Netherlands has long been in a reception crisis with lack of capacity for accommodation for asylum seekers. DCR further points out (translated): “Politicians have not been able to address these concerns. In fact, by engaging in fact-free politics, the image has been created that ‘it’s because of refugees and asylum seekers’. This not only distracts from the content, but makes a constructive conversation about solutions very difficult” adding: “’Today’s major problems require constructive solutions. Whether it’s about the housing shortage, the climate crisis or the migration issue: it is important to let facts be leading, and to adhere to laws and treaties. We ask the next government not to get bogged down in symbolic politics that fuel polarisation, but to start working on solutions that take away the concerns of citizens and that are good for refugees”.

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