Friday

15th Nov 2019

Dutch PM tells people to 'act normal, or go away'

  • Dutch PM Rutte is hoping to secure an election win on 15 March but is facing stiff resistance from Geert Wilders (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

The prime minister of the Netherlands has asked people to respect Dutch values or to leave the country.

In an open letter published on Tuesday (23 January) in major Dutch newspapers, Mark Rutte said that residents and citizens should "act normal, or go away."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

He said, in comments aimed at Muslims, that Dutch society had been made uncomfortable by attacks against homosexuals and women in short skirts.

"We feel a growing unease when people misuse our freedoms to spoil everything, when they have come to our country for freedom," he said.

Rutte had made similar comments earlier in the week in an interview with Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad. He told the newspaper that people who do not respect Dutch values had the choice to leave.

"If you don’t like it here, leave the country, go away. That’s a choice you have, isn’t it?", he told the paper.

The tough statements are seen as part of a larger strategy to woo voters away from the anti-Islamic and anti-immigrant Freedom party (PVV) ahead of elections on 15 March.

Rutte's liberal VVD party is hoping for a third term in government, but is trailing in polls behind the PVV.

The PVV is led by Geert Wilders, a divisive figure who was convicted by a court last month of insulting and inciting discrimination against Moroccans.

Wilders wants to impose a ban on publication of the Quran and to dismantle the European Union in favour of nation states with hard borders.

Despite his views, he claims that some people from Turkish diaspora and other Muslims support his party.

"A growing amount of Turkish Islamic people vote for my party because they feel enough is enough," he told reporters over the weekend at a far-right rally in Koblenz, Germany.

He said some 100,000 Muslims, or 10 percent of the Muslim population in the Netherlands, were ready to resort to violence to defend Islam.

"That's twice as much as the army of Holland, which is 50,000 people," he said.

Wilders is likely to find it difficult to form a coalition even if he wins the election, however, with Rutte refusing to form a government with the PVV.

Far-right groups pledge allegiance ahead of elections

Far-right leaders Le Pen, Wilders, Petry and others gathered in Koblenz in the hope of gaining political momentum ahead of national elections this year. The event was met with thousands of protestors.

Catalan MEP is 'elected', court advisor says

In a boost for the cause of three Catalan MEPs, the advocate general of the EU Court of Justice has recognised their mandate as elected MEPs - but it is up to the parliament if they should enjoy immunity.

Far-right Vox celebrates, as Spain left without majority

Although the governing Socialists Party (PSOE) won the most seats at Sunday's elections, the political deadlock continues with a deeply-fragmented scenario, in which the far-right Vox party is in a strong position while the centre has become irrelevant.

Can Sunday's election end Spain's endless deadlock?

Uncertainty surrounding this weekend's Spanish election - the fourth in four years - is rising, as polls suggest that the outcome of Sunday's vote could be as inconclusive April's election. Thousands of police are on the streets of Barcelona.

New Romanian commissioner completes line-up, bar UK

Ursula von der Leyen has chosen Alina Valean to be Romania's new commissioner. She will get the transport portfolio, putting an end to speculation that Hungary might lose the enlargement portfolio.

News in Brief

  1. Germany: EU banking union deal possible in December
  2. EIB: no more funding of fossil-fuel projects
  3. UK defence chief: Russia could trigger World War III
  4. Hungary's Varhelyi will face more questions
  5. Police put former Berlusconi MEP Comi under house arrest
  6. MEPs criticise Poland for criminalising sex education
  7. UK will not name new commissioner before election
  8. Trump expected to delay EU car tariff decision

Wilmès becomes first female PM of Belgium

On Sunday, Sophie Wilmès was appointed as the new prime minister of Belgium - becoming the first female head of government in the country's history. She replaces Charles Michel who becomes president of the European Council.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room
  2. Green MEPs unconvinced by Romanian commissioner
  3. EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors
  4. Hungary's commissioner-to-be grilled over loyalty to Orban
  5. Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act
  6. Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile
  7. Mustard gas and cod: Last chance to stop Nord Stream 2?
  8. Cultural Battlefield

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us