Monday 17 January 2022

Local elections: VVD sends out mixed messages over language

The right-wing VVD Liberal party in Rotterdam is standing by a local election poster with the text: ‘In Rotterdam we speak Dutch’.

Local campaign leader Jeanette Baljeu told local broadcaster RTV Rijnmond that people who live in Rotterdam must learn Dutch. ‘If you want to integrate, you have to speak the language,’ she said.

Too few people are comfortable speaking Dutch, which disadvantages both them and their children, she said. The posters are a good means of stimulating debate about integration.

The text is not aimed at tourists or expats who do not stay long in the Netherlands, Baljeu said. ‘Expats are very wecome here but they don’t stay long otherwise they would be Rotterdammers. But if people do stay, they really must learn Dutch.’

A number of spoofs are now been circulated on the internet. The VVD website includes a ‘generator’ which allows you to type in your own text using the VVD colours and logo and then circulate it.

Website Joop.nl points out that in Maastricht, the VVD is advertising with English language posters.

In Amsterdam’s district Zuid, the VVD even has a ‘vote VVD’ video featuring internationals speaking in their own language – including German, Italian and Japanese – telling people to vote for the party.

Prime minister Mark Rutte told Nos television at the weekend he thought the Rotterdam party had produced ‘a fine poster with a good message’. Learning the language is the only way to really participate in Dutch society, he said.

However, Diederik Samson, leader of the VVD’s coalition partner PvdA, said he felt the posters were a ‘little small-minded’. The posters are noteworthy in a ‘harbour city where many languages are spoken’, he told BNR radio.

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