Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Wilders' New Anti-Immigrant Campaign

The far-right Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) - led by Geert Wilders - has once again attempted to build hostility towards immigrants from Poland and other Central-Eastern European countries.

The PVV has set up a new website that encourages people to post their complaints about "central and east Europeans ... for general nuisance, pollution and labour market displacement."

Wilders has a long history of stoking hostility towards immigrants in Holland. Last year he was in court facing five counts of giving offence to Muslims and of inciting hatred against Muslims and people of 'non-Western immigrant origin'. Wilders has recently turned his attention towards immigrants from CEE, particularly Poland. He has, for example, proposed that migrants from CEE should be returned home if they lose their jobs or are homeless. It is estimated that there are currently around 200,000 Poles living in Holland, plus a further 100,000 from other CEE countries (primarily from Romania and Bulgaria).

Despite his extreme views, Wilders has managed to exert a certain influence over mainstream Dutch politics, as the country is presently run by a minority right-wing government that partly depends upon the support of the PVV. The PVV is the third largest party in Holland and frequently increases its anti-immigrant rhetoric as a way of boosting its support. The PVV's latest website is an attempt to further disseminate negative stereotypes about immigrants from CEE amongst Dutch society.

The Dutch anti-discrimination officers have already received over 3,000 complaints about the PVV's new website and many Dutch people have responded by posting positive comments about their experiences of living and working alongside people from CEE. The Union of Polish Communities in Europe has written an open letter of complaint to the Dutch Prime Minister. The website has also been criticised by a number of European politicians, diplomats and also by the European Commission for going against the principles of the free movement of labour and tolerance inside Europe.

As Europe continues to struggle with the worst economic crisis for a generation, politicians such as Wilders are seeking to build upon people's frustrations through racism and xenophobia, including against immigrants from Poland and CEE.

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