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Tuesday 21 October  
Geert Wilders in Parliament
John Tyler's picture
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The Hague, Netherlands
The Hague, Netherlands

Dutch coalition agreement - but what's in it for Wilders?

Published on : 30 September 2010 - 4:52pm | By John Tyler (Photo: ANP)
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The Qur'an will not be banned, headscarves will not be taxed, and Muslims will not be deported en masse. Geert Wilders did not get everything he wanted in the coalition agreement between the conservative VVD and the Christian Democrats, propped up by his own Freedom Party (PVV).

So what did Mr Wilders get in return for supporting this minority cabinet? These are the main PVV points:

  • There will be a complete ban on burqas, and police and justice employees will not be allowed to wear headscarves;
  • Conditional passports for new immigrants - to be withdrawn if they commit crimes in the first five years;
  • The pension age will only be raised to 66 not 67;
  • An extra 2,500 police officers;
  • Animal police will be introduced. 500 officers will look after the welfare of animals in the Netherlands;
  • The duration of unemployment benefit payments will not be reduced;
  • Maximum speed on the motorway will be increased to 130 kilometres per hour;
  • The current smoking ban will be lifted for small cafés

Unprecedented
How will it work? First of all, Geert Wilders' Freedom Party will not be part of the new cabinet, and so will not provide any ministers. The twelve ministers (down from the current 16) will be split evenly between the VVD and the CDA, and VVD leader Mark Rutte says the cabinet should be called Rutte-Verhagen I. The Freedom Party, for its part, will support the government in parliament.

This is a unique construction, with no precedent in Dutch politics. To achieve a stable minority government, the three parties have signed two different governing accords. One encompasses what all three parties have agreed to, and the other details what the VVD and CDA have agreed. Geert Wilders will not sign the second accord. However, he has agreed not to bring the government down over policies laid out in the agreement between the VVD and CDA.

Freedom Party input
What Wilders also gets, in addition to the points above, is stricter immigration and integration measures. Some measures, including the conditional passport for new citizens, may violate existing EU regulations. The agreement explicitly states it will try to find as much leeway as possible within existing treaties governing immigration and integration, and if need be, renegotiate the treaties. At the same time, the new cabinet will lobby to change EU guidelines.

The agreement calls for a significant reduction in immigration.

A new Minister of Security will also oversee tougher law and order policies. The new cabinet will thus have a decidedly Freedom Party 'feel' in these areas.

Input from the left
But while the Freedom Party is politically on the right when it comes to immigration, its policies towards health care, care for the elderly and some social services are more at home on the left.

Here, Wilders has managed to minimise cuts in a number of areas. The VVD and CDA have agreed that the retirement age will only be raised to 66 instead of 67. Wilders wanted it to stay at 65. There will be investment in care for the elderly and unemployment benefits will not be further limited.

The Freedom Party also promotes animal rights. For the first time, this country will have a special police force just to protect animals. A number of other policies to combat cruelty to animals are part of the agreement.

There are many other measures the Freedom Party is pleased with. These include lifting the smoking ban for small cafés, building new roads, cutting the development aid budget and scaling back the budget for public broadcasting.

Not done
The cabinet is not a done deal - yet. The Christian Democrat members still have to approve the coalition agreement, which they're expected to do at a tense and crowded congress on Saturday. If the members vote yes, then the three parliamentary caucuses will approve the accord early next week. Finally, Queen Beatrix will ask Mark Rutte to form his new government, after which he will appoint his ministers. And during the week of 11 October, the new cabinet will pose for the traditional photograph with the queen, and finally be able to get to work.
 

Discussion

Anonymous 2 October 2010 - 7:30pm / you lnow

The smartest thing the new government could do is to try to get independent of foreign oil and energy, and thus discard any dependency on oil and natural gas from volatile countries that are considered "friendly" but try to stab you in the back.
To hell with terrorism and countries that funnel part of their oil revenues to Muslim terrorist organizations.

Hiram2 1 October 2010 - 7:19pm

"How can you cut minimum wage when you can't even live off of it? Prices going up on everything....makes no sense."..........Ames, there is no reason for the government to cut minimum wages. The government needs to stop spending vast amount of money by not giving it away to other countries, stop taking in thousands of immigrants every year and stop giving finicial support to those who are already there after a specific time period, stop paying politicians a wage for a public service, and stop exporting jobs to third world countries. Why do prices constantly increase? More taxes forces people and employers to demand pay raises and pass on higher prices to compensate for the taxes. The government comes out ahead for a short period of time or until their employees ask for a pay raises to help them survive. Another reason is the cost of fuel for both employers and employees. When farmers produce a product for market, the price of fuel has a very large impact on what the public pays for it at the market. I have seen on several occasions where the price of fuel costs more to transport a crop than it did to grow it. The government needs to go on a diet like it makes it citizens do. It needs to have empathy for it's people first and afterwards for those who don't have anything but it all starts at home. Never try to feed someone else until you and your family have eaten first and then if you have extra, you share but don't share all of it until you have eaten. A starving person or nation can't help anyone else survive. You are right it does not make sense!

Anonymous 1 October 2010 - 2:27pm

http://en.knowquran.org/koran/search/

try to search wat muslims holly book Quran says about:

woman
jew
disbeliever
etc.

Open your eyes!

Congratulation Gert. I regret you are not in our country.
I hope you will sucseed.

Hiram2 1 October 2010 - 7:36pm

Anonymous, I have read it several times. They the vast majority of them are blind to the truth. Just the other day the police stopped numerous terrorists cells from attacking the European people in several locatioons throughout Europe. I wonder who those terrorists were and their religious belief system. How many innocent people have to die before the world understands that it is the belief system and the people and nations behind the attacks who uses the religion to justify the attacks on women, Jews (people of the Book), and non-believers. They don't even have compassion for Believers who are murder during their terrorist attacks. I think it is called a Jihad!

Ames 1 October 2010 - 12:06pm / Netherlands

How can you cut minimum wage when you can't even live off of it? Prices going up on everything....makes no sense.

David Berridge 1 October 2010 - 7:15am / Canada

Geert has much to gain from this new arrangement even with the PVV not in the cabinet. With this new accord named Rutte-Verhagen, the PVV is free from any liabilties for whatever might not succeed from this new government's policies. An experimental environment results in this framework to discover how far or not certain policy desires the PVV holds, will translate into support and reality, or defiant resaistance. All in all, this accord provides a strategic staging ground for a future run at a higher level of power, and practical training for future cabinet ministers Geert wishes to promote from the ranks. Geert has a large political political beach head from which to establish a strong foothold. This is potentially alarming.

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