Monday 27 March 2023

Dear ambassadors: sorry

The PVV shop-a-Pole website – What the papers say

In response to the ambassadors’ letter in which they object to the now internationally infamous PVV website where people can post their grievances about central and eastern European workers, Nrc writes a letter of its own.
In it the paper emphasises that the website is not a government initiative but another Geert Wilders stunt. At this point Nrc heaves an almost audible sigh: it is about to explain the concept of ‘gedogen’. ‘The PVV is with this government but not of this government’, the paper tries, knowing full well that the ambassadors and certainly the people they represent are bound to regard this as an example of disingenuous knit picking. ‘We have a minority cabinet based on 52 of the 150 parliamentary seats’, the paper explains, ‘and therefore it has to take the opinions of the PVV, which has 24 seats, into account. And that is deplorable because this party fuels and exploits xenophobic feeling in this country.’
Nrc agrees with the ambassadors: the Netherlands has profited from the free movement of workers and goods in Europe. The ambassadorial barb about Dutch tolerance hits the paper hard. ‘You write that in your countries the Netherlands used to be regarded as a country of tolerance and freedom. That hits us in our hearts because you represent European member states in which democracy and individual freedom was compromised for decades and party dictatorship ruled. This is another reason why the PVV website is so very wrong. It is regrettable that our prime minister – a historian and a liberal – should show so little empathy and has reacted so rigidly and formally. (…) We hope the government will soon speak out against this abject website.’
In an article in the same paper, sources in Brussels warn that the Netherlands may have to pay a hefty price for Wilders’ website. Not only are Dutch tulips under threat, European budget talks are coming up as well, prompting an insider to say: ‘Good luck to the Netherlands. It wants to freeze its European contribution and hold on to its 1m ‘discount’. But it will need the support of the eastern European countries to do so.’
FD is not impressed by prime minister Rutte’s argument that it is not the cabinet’s job to comment on the actions of individual political parties. ‘Rutte is facing a difficult round of negotiations about further cutbacks’, the paper writes and the reason Rutte is silent, to the detriment of the eastern Europeans.
Out of control
FD concludes that Rutte has let ‘a smouldering fire get out of control’. Instead of pouring a bucket of water on the flames straight away he will now need at least two fire engines, the paper warns.

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