Verdonk’s party puts focus on nationalism

Independent MP and former integration minister Rita Verdonk positioned her new political grouping Trots op Nederland (Proud of the Netherlands) firmly in the nationalist camp during the party’s inaugural speech in Amsterdam on Thursday night.

Verdonk stressed the need to protect Dutch identity from outside influences and passionately rejected what she said was a growing call for the Dutch to adjust to other cultures. ‘To that I say: enough! There are limits.’
According to today’s Volkskrant this is the first time that any Dutch political party has played the nationalist card so emphatically.
Speaking on Thursday’s Nova current affairs show, the leader of the social democrat D66 party Alexander Pechtold said one-third of Verdonk’s 30 minute speech was dominated by anti-foreigner rhetoric. But she had failed to come up with concrete proposals on issues such as integration, he said.
As well as immigration and integration, Verdonk said Trots op Nederland (TON) will focus on education, reducing bureaucracy, security, traffic, healthcare and development aid. The Volkskrant listed the following among the main points from her political programme:

  • Scrapping provincial governments and halving the number of MPs to 75
  • Tougher punishment on groups that are over-represented in crime
  • Cutting the development aid budget by two-thirds and using the money
    instead for police, teachers and nurses salaries
  • Extending permission for shops to open on Sundays
  • Limit public discussion on major infrastructure building projects to
    ensure they go through
  • Furthermore, Verdonk said she wants to distance herself from ‘the political elite in The Hague’ and give the public more say in her new party’s policies by setting up a ‘wiki-style’ online communication system.

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