Despite opposing the use of languages other than Dutch on election posters, a candidate for the anti-immigration PVV addressed a special local election meeting for expats in The Hague on Tuesday evening in English.
Eleven of the 19 parties competing for the 45 seats on The Hague city council were represented at the election debate, which was organised by city hall in a effort to stimulate debate among the 40,000 non-Dutch nationals who can vote on March 19.
Chris van der Helm told the audience that reducing taxes is one of the party’s main concerns in The Hague, as is abolishing the dog tax and improving public safety.
Describing Islam as a barbaric ideology, Van der Harm went on to express his party’s support for expats. ‘We’re not against expats. We agreed with the special tax rate [30% ruling] for expats,’ Van der Harm said.
The anti-immigration PVV may well become the biggest party in The Hague after the March 19 vote and several parties have previously warned of the message this would send out internationally. The PVV is only standing in the local elections in The Hague and Almere.
Despite the PVV candidate’s statements, most of the parties did not challenge his position, leaving it up to GroenLinks candidate Bastiaan Verberne to dismiss Van der Helm’s claims that the party is about lowering taxes.
Verberne also attacked other parties for jumping on the right-wing bandwagon. The Labour party in The Hague, he pointed out, has still not apologised for the way one alderman talked of a ‘tsunami of immigrants‘.
Joeri Oudshoorn, of the local Haagse Stadspartij, also attacked Geert Wilders’ party. ‘We have the PVV in this city and we need to combat this,’ he said. The Haagse Stadspartij currently has two seats on the council.
Rabin Baldewsingh, the Labour party’s local campaign leader, said the PvdA had managed to create a united city in a couple of decades. ‘We need to celebrate diversity in a city of peace and justice,’ he said.
As part of its efforts to enourage foreigners to vote, the city council has printed some 15,000 copies of a special English language newspaper outlining the council’s work and the parties’ main policies.
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