The ultra-right hardline PVV Party, led by the notorious Geert Wilders, currently maintains an appalling racist website. The defining characteristic of the said website is a portal encouraging readers to complain about anti-social and perceived bad behaviour by immigrants to Holland from Eastern Europe.
Utterly dreadful as this is, the story gets even worse. The PVV is, in fact, a partner in the Dutch governing coalition government headed up by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, leader in turn of the right-wing conservative-liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD).
European Parliament President Martin Schulz, the former leader of the Socialist and Democrat Group, recently roundly condemned Rutte for refusing to take action against the PVV website. As reported in the “Irish Times” having met Mr Rutte on the fringes of the EU summit earlier this month, Mr Schulz was scathing saying: “In the Netherlands Mr Rutte cannot survive without Geert Wilder’s Freedom Party. But in Europe he says he has nothing to do with Wilders. He cannot maintain that position – it is simply unacceptable.”
It really is a terrible tale of racism and discrimination, the like of which I have not come across in the continent of Europe for a very long time.
The vast majority of my colleagues in the European Parliament feel the same way, and yesterday we debated the issue in some depth. MEPs would have very much liked Mark Rutte to attend to at the very lest explain his position. However, he declined our request and refused to turn up.
Sources claim that that Mr Rutte did not regard the debate as urgent, saying he had already explained his position to the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz.
Political commentators in Holland have been equally critical. According to the Irish Times, one said Mr Rutte was regarded in Europe as “lacking in nerve and tact”, while another maintained he would be missing a valuable opportunity today to rebuild bridges with the 10 central and eastern European countries, particularly Poland and Romania, which want the site taken down.
Nevertheless, the European Parliament did debate the PVV racist website yesterday. The only MEP defending it was PVV member Auke Zijlstra who in one of the MEPs sitting with the non-attached members. He was, as you might expect, extremely racist accusing immigrants from Eastern Europe of violence and criminal activity, amongst other things.
The other MEPs in the debate condemned the website as did EU Commissioner Viviane Reding and Danish Presidency spokesperson Nicolai Wammen. As Mrs Reding pointed out, the website contravenes three EU Directives, not to mention the way it undermines basic human rights.
Indeed, the very existence of this website brings the government at the Hague into disrepute. By refusing to condemn Geert Wilders and the racist PVV website, Mark Rutte is showing where his true principles lie. The point is, of course, that they are not principles at all, merely an overpowering desire to stay in power at any price.