THE HAGUE, 13/11/07 - The troubled conservatives (VVD) yesterday presented a series of tough measures intended to dam immigration and 'Islamisation' of Dutch society. The coalition parties reacted dismissively.The acid-pissing reporting by NIS news not withstanding ("the troubled VVD - the party has plummeted in the polls since it sent away its rightwing MP Rita Verdonk") this is rather significant. In Dutch politics the VVD is still considered one of the 'Big Three': the three parties (together with labour PvdA and christian democrat CDA) at the centre of political power.
VVD MP Henk Kamp wants to reduce immigration as much as possible of people "who not speak Dutch or English". The minimum age of a non-EU marriage immigrant should go up from 21 to 24, to combat arranged marriages. The applicant should also pay a deposit of 7,500 euros, only repayable after five years if no call has been made on social security.
Around one-third of immigrants currently arriving from Turkey and Morocco to marry are a nephew or niece of the bride or bridegroom, according to Kamp. Because this is a threat to public health he wants to ban nephew-and-niece marriages and introduce an obligatory DNA test to this end.
Kamp also wants the government actively to track down and deport all illegal immigrants. Additionally, it should be a punishable offence for municipalities or other government bodies to offer aid to illegal immigrants. "Both illegal residence and making illegal residence possible must become punishable," he writes.
According to the VVD, there are an estimated 185,000 illegal immigrants in the Netherlands. Deportation policy is confined to those that cause nuisance or are criminals, but even there not much is done in practice, according to Kamp, the former defence minister.
The VVD opposes the "obtrusive presence of Islam in public spaces." Kamp wants to ban mosques from calling to prayer in Arabic with megaphones. The wearing of face-covering clothing should also become an offence.
Muslims may profess their religion in freedom, "but the Netherlands is not an Islamic country and must not become one." Mosques offering radical Imams a podium must be closed and the Imams deported, in Kamp's view. If they also have Dutch nationality as well as another, the Dutch passport must be taken away from them.
Finally, the troubled VVD - the party has plummeted in the polls since it sent away its rightwing MP Rita Verdonk - proposes a tougher approach to youngsters misbehaving on the street. They must be re-educated in government centres. If they are aged below 12, they must be put in a closed institution, which is currently not legally permitted.
According to a poll by radio programme Standpunt a large majority of the population appears to support a tougher approach. Yesterday, 33 percent agreed and 67 percent disagreed with the statement 'The new immigration plans of the VVD go too far.'
The Christian democrats (CDA) and Labour (PvdA) do consider the VVD is going too far. A CDA spokesman termed the VVD memorandum "radical." The PvdA considers Kamp stigmatises population groups. Small Christian party ChristenUnie, the third coalition party, is also generally unenthusiastic.
The political elites in The Hague may have thought they had quelled the Fortuyn revolt, but polls consistently show strong popular support for Wilders PVV and ex-VVD-XO Verdonks own party (under construction). Both CDA and PvdA are locked in a coalition that was most noted for its total lack of leadership during the Slotervaart affair. The current coalition manages to pull together no more then 69 seats (out of a 150) in the polls, making this one of the least popular coalitions in recent history.
The VVD apparently sees the writing on the wall: a significant portion of the Dutch population disagrees fundamentally with the multicultural mirage that has dominated Dutch politics for the last two decades. Undoubtedly this has something to do with the predicted loss of seats for the VVD after ejecting Verdonk. Or with the consistently strong showing of 'neo-realist' Wilders. Such is politics after all. But in the grand scheme of things that does not matter. What matters is the fact that one of the Big Three blinked. In the staring contest between an increasingly disenchanted electorate and the political elites, one of the three main streams cast his eyes downward, gave in.
It still remains to be seen whatever becomes of the proposals made by Kamp, of course. Undoubtedly much wailing and gnashing of teeth will endue in the Dutch MSM as well Dutch politics. And inevitably the VVD will be exposed to all-round condemnation for giving in to 'popularism'. But the fact remains: One of the Big Three is moving into territory that was considered lunatic fringe by the do-gooders of the multi-cult. The whisper of the people is becoming audible over the din of Dutch politics-as-usual.