Dutch PM under pressure over Wilders website

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Pressure is increasing on Prime Minister Mark Rutte to come out against the controversial website launched by Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV). People visiting the site are invited to “tell their stories” about trouble caused by Central and Eastern European migrants in the Netherlands.

Ten ambassadors from various European countries have written a letter of protest to the Dutch parliament. Many MPs, including those from the junior coalition partner, the Christian Democrats (CDA) say Mr Rutte – from the conservative VVD - must make the cabinet’s stance on the issue clear.

No comment
The PM is still sticking to the position he adopted last week when the PVV launched the website. He refused to comment, saying that the site was operated by a political party and not by the government: “If Geert Wilders goes too far, I’ll say something about it; but it’s not for me to comment on everything the PVV does.”

CDA MP Eddy van Hijum agrees that any party can launch a hotline website on something, but thinks Mr Rutte “could be more definite about the cabinet’s own view” and that “the cabinet stands for a different line”. He argues that migrant workers don’t just cause trouble but also are important contributors to the economy. He also thinks that a website doesn’t actually help solve the problems.

Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen, from the CDA, is more forthcoming than Mr Rutte: “This cabinet stands for the free movement of workers … the East Europeans have also made a great contribution to our economy. But we don’t shut our eyes to the problems: unfair competition, bogus temp agencies, exploitation, nuisance.”
He believes the problems are being tackled in co-operation with local authorities.

Damage
Opposition parties on the left are accusing Mr Rutte of damaging the image of the Netherlands by not condemning the PVV website. Labour’s Frans Timmermans hopes that Mr Rutte “quickly comes to see that, in the eyes of many abroad, keeping silent makes him an accessory to this rabble-rousing against fellow Europeans.

Read an article on the row over the PVV website

(mw/imm)

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