In the Netherlands’ Parliamentary Elections, Restricting Mass Immigration Won the Day
FAIR Take | December 2023
While Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, or PVV) stunned many by pulling off a victory in the parliamentary election. The PVV, which supports a dramatic reduction in immigration, more than doubled its support since the last election, securing 24 percent of the vote and 37 seats in the Netherlands’ 150-seat House of Representatives. The election was held early after the previous government collapsed in July due to coalition partners opposing to the government’s proposal to rein in asylum abuse. In the Netherlands, as in all Western countries, immigration is now becoming the number one issue that drives political debate.
The results have demonstrated that Dutch voters are dissatisfied with unchecked mass immigration and routine asylum abuse. Moreover, the election showed that calling for putting a nation’s citizens first and ending out-of-control mass migration can be a winning political strategy. This is especially true when mass immigration is linked to the imposition of rising costs to the taxpayer. And that is as important in Holland as it is in the United States, where illegal aliens impose over $150 billion in costs across a range of services.
The PVV ran on a platform supporting the Netherlands having greater control over its borders. As a response to mass asylum abuse, the party called for a “freeze on asylum” and turning away asylum applicants from safe third countries. Wilders promised to reinstitute border controls and deport illegal aliens. As a member of the European Union (EU), much of the immigration policy of the Netherlands is under ultimate EU control. However, this has led the PVV to call for a “Nexit” referendum on Holland’s EU membership to restore the supremacy of Dutch law in this policy area.
Despite now being the biggest single party in the parliament, even the winner must typically must form a coalition government that incorporates other parties. These other parties agree on little, but seem to agree with the establishment policy of continuous mass immigration. As a result, Wilders is finding it challenging to make a coalition. There is considerable pressure to coerce him to dilute or give up on his key promises – especially on immigration– to become tolerable to potential coalition partners. Otherwise, he may have to form a minority cabinet, or the other parties may somehow form a coalition to marginalize him. Such negotiations, even in more “normal” political times, routinely take months. But either way, the voters have spoken and the PVV will have the largest parliamentary faction in the Dutch House of Representatives, holding a fourth of the seats.
For a majority of Dutch voters (52 percent), immigration and asylum were key issues (for PVV voters specifically, it was 80 percent). Other major issues for voters were the cost of living, healthcare, trust in government, and national security. Voters concerned about these issues also tended to favor the PVV. Wilders’ skill appears to have been the ability to show how these issues relate to immigration. The PVV became the biggest party among voters aged 18-35, particularly since these voters are overwhelmingly concerned and embittered by the shortage of affordable housing, a phenomenon that is hugely exacerbated by mass migration.
The PVV got an even greater boost following the October 7 terrorist attack against Israel by Hamas and the subsequent pro-Hamas demonstrations that occurred in many Dutch cities, some of which saw violence by Islamist and radical left elements. The Netherlands has been on the receiving end of high-level Islamist terrorism, such as the murder of Theo Van Gogh or a triple murder on a tram in Utrecht by a Turkish migrant in 2019. The open support for Hamas and the increasing link in the Netherlands between mass immigration and potential terrorism may have driven some of the vote for Wilders. The same is true in America, where open borders have seen increasing numbers of terror suspects apprehended.
The Dutch vote was a repudiation of the political and media elites’ implicit support of unchecked mass migration. Following decades of mass migration, 15 percent of the Netherlands’ population is now foreign-born – a historical record for that country – and another 11 percent has one or two foreign-born parents. Many Dutch feel that such rapid demographic-cultural change has been pushed upon their societies against their will. They are increasingly searching for political answers to the unrelenting mass immigration that impacts their nations.
An interesting perspective comes from Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born former refugee in the Netherlands and one-time Dutch parliamentarian, and Evelyn Markus, the daughter of Holocaust survivors. They co-authored a recent op-ed in which they note the massive increase in immigration and the sense of hopelessness it creates in the communities that receive it. This is true in the Netherlands and in the U.S.
The situation in Europe and America is increasingly similar. Namely, an out of touch elite in favor of open borders and a beleaguered population who want to see sensible immigration restrictions to protect their communities and ease the pressure mass immigration places on public finance, public services and public safety. While FAIR will always first and foremost focus on America, events across the Atlantic show that this fight for sensible immigration policy is one that is increasingly important in all Western countries.