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Immigration in The Netherlands Fast News

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Free joints, election fraud, mass police reports and a Dutch version of the Swiss limitation on immigration: read it all in this week´s Bottom Line by Nele Goutier.
Free joints and fraud: Regional elections in The Netherlands
With the upcoming European elections national identity is a hot topic in The Netherlands. However, this week the media have another focus, because on Wednesday the country voted in municipal elections.The big winners were the social-democrats D66, the leftwing SP and various small local parties. The results are a sign of protest and dissatisfaction with the government. The liberal VDD and the center-left PvdA, leading government parties, both lost heavily, writes the newspaper NRC.All the stops were pulled out to increase the turnout that was 54 per cent in 2010. Despite local and national politicians working day and night, the turnout this year was only 53 per cent.Het Algemeen Dagblad wrote already before the elections started that people are unfamiliar with local politicians. 50 per cent of the citizens cannot name any candidates; among the people under 35 this figure rises to 60 per cent. Moreover, De Volkskrant writes that those entitled to vote are more likely to get influenced by the media than by political campaigns, despite sometimes controversial campaigns, like the distribution of free joints in the streets of the Dutch capital city by the local party Red Amsterdam.While the political leaders held their final debates last week, the Dutch media reported about concerns of election fraud. There are signs that in a growing number of towns and cities, political parties have been asking people to donate them their ballot papers. Such fraud has been reported to the police in among others Roermond,  Soest and Alphen aan de Rijn. The Public Prosecutor Service investigates the cases, but convincing proof enabling conviction is unlikely, writes De Volkskrant.A statement made by Geert Wilders, leader of the right wing party Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV, Party for Freedom) is more likely to lead to conviction. The politician provoked a lot of controversy when he announced that people should vote for him if they wanted a city with fewer charges and less Moroccans, writes NOS. “The less Moroccans, the better”, stated Wilders.

Roel Wijnants
Roel Wijnants

On the day of the elections he asked his voters whether they would like to have more or less Moroccans in the country. The crowd replied to by shouting ´less´ thirteen times and Wilders promised to take care of that. Fouad Sidali, member of the center left Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA, Labour Party), responded by comparing Wilders to Adolf Hitler.

Thousands of people have been said to have complained about Wilders´ statements, which they consider discriminatory, to the police. Opponents of the politician have started a Facebook group page ´Ik doe aangifte tegen Wilders´ (´I report Wilders´), where people share pictures of their reports. The page has been liked by over 40,000 people. On Twitter, people with foreign backgrounds have posted selfies with their Dutch passport and ´#bornhere´.

Pieter Klein, chief editor of one of the biggest news broadcasting agency´s in The Netherlands, RTL Nieuws, publicly criticized Wilders in an open letter under the title ´Geert, ga je schamen’ (´Geert, be ashamed of yourself´). NRC, one of the biggest national news papers, also criticised Wilders´ actions. However, Wilders announced that he does not see any reason to apologize, writes NRC.

While the Public Prosecution Service investigates the case, the losing government party’s try to accept their losses and prepare for the European elections in May, and the winning parties have started negotiations about the formation of local councils.

Swiss migration referendum going Dutch?
Last week the Swiss referendum on migration shook up the continent. A similar proposal to limit immigration was the subject of debate last week in The Netherlands, where Prime-minister Mark Rutte’s party the VVD proposed a law to limit the immigration of underprivileged Dutch-Antilleans, writes Elsevier.

Inhabitants from the Caribbean islands’ Aruba, Sint-Maarten and Curaçao – part of the Dutch kingdom – would, according to the proposal, need a license if they want to establish themselves in the Netherlands for longer than six months. Such a license would only by granted to people that are able to independently provide their own income or have a family member that does. Requests could be rejected if the applicant is considered a severe threat to public order.

Opposition parties expressed heavy criticism and said the proposal, known as the Bosman Law, was in conflict with the prohibition of racial discrimination, writes De Telegraaf. They believe that the law would result in an unequal treatment of people who are supposed to have the same rights, of which freedom of movement is considered one the most important ones.

Jesus E. Vasquez
Jesus E. Vasquez

The opposition says that some Antilleans can be criticised: they are more likely to be dependent on social security and are over-represented in criminal records. However, limiting immigration would not be a solution to such problems, as is argued by the opponents of the Bosman Law; it would only be a replacement of the problem. They argue that the government should improve employment and education on the islands instead.

The Islands reacted angrily to the proposal, mostly because it was agreed in 2011 that no limitations would be made on the freedom of moment within the Dutch Kingdom. The initiating party, the VVD, argues that the islands have the same policy, that requires Dutch people to meet certain criteria before they are allowed to settle down on one of the islands.

So far it appears there is not enough support for the law to get through, but several parties have expressed their willingness to reconsider the proposal if it will be fundamentally adjusted to their critics.

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