VVD manifesto focuses on immigration and cost of living

Party leader Dilan Yesilgöz launches the manifesto. Photo: ANP/Robin Utrecht

The right-wing liberal party VVD has made tightening immigration rules one of the main priorities in its election manifesto, after the last coalition fell apart over irreconcilable differences on asylum policy.

New party leader Dilan Yesilgöz said she had gone into politics to campaign for “freedom”, but freedom was only possible if the boundaries were clear.

In July the cabinet resigned en masse after the four parties were unable to agree on limiting the rights of refugees to be joined by their families.

The VVD and Christian Democrats (CDA) wanted to put an upper limit on the number of family members arriving each month, but D66 and the ChristianUnie refused to support the idea.

The VVD’s manifesto, titled “Ruimte geven. Grenzen stellen” (make space, set boundaries) proposes clarifying refugees’ rights by creating a two-tier system based on people’s country of origin, which will determine whether they have the right to stay in the Netherlands temporarily or permanently.

The party also said it wanted to redefine the concept of the “core family” so that fewer people are entitled to claim asylum in order to join relatives who have been granted refugee status.

Numbers row

Yesilgöz was criticised a month ago for claiming on a TV talk show that “very large” numbers of asylum seekers had made use of the “follow-on” ruling, while refugee agency Vluchtelingenwerk said that there were only a handful of examples of mass claims being linked to one family member. Neither the justice ministry nor the immigration service IND were able to provide numbers.

Other measures in the manifesto include a commitment to halve nitrogen compound emissions by 2035, scrapping the accelerated deadline of 2030 that was written into the previous cabinet’s coalition agreement.

The CDA and agricultural organisations, as well as farmers’ party BBB, had previously called for the 2030 deadline to be abandoned.

The VVD also said it wanted to ease pressure on “hard-working Dutch people” from soaring living costs by freezing rent rises and lowering income and fuel taxes. It is the third party to mention the cost of living in its campaign, after independent MP Pieter Omtzigt and the left-green alliance led by Frans Timmermans called for measures to promote “security of existence”.

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