Elections are being held for the European Parliament until Sunday 7th June across the European Union. Yesterday, voters went to the polls in (amongst others) the UK and Holland. The Dutch decided to publish the results of their poll early - officially, the EU will publish the results on Monday, after all countries have voted.
Fifteen percent of the vote in Holland went to the far-right PVV (Freedom Party), led by controversial MP Geert Wilders. Mr Wilders was denied access to the United Kingdom in February, amidst fears his presence would destabilise community relations. Following the attacks on London's public transport system in 2005, much work has gone into drawing ethnic minorities back into mainstream British society. I was surprised that the Dutch government, which protested loudly about the treatment of
I am particularly shocked, as Holland has for centuries had a reputation for tolerance and being a safe haven for the persecuted of the world. In the wake of the Second World War, which was fought to combat racism, discrimination and intolerance, any problems surrounding ethnic minorities in Holland were sidestepped, for fear of raising the impression of discrimination.
Back in 2002, politician Pim Fortuyn became hugely popular for giving a voice to those people who felt that the migrant-related problems were not being dealt with. He was assissinated just before a General Election, and his party (not the current PVV) gained a huge percentage of the vote.
As Dutch politicians are saying today, Mr Wilders has a clear message, but no workable alternative. I hope someone realises the message that underlies the 15% vote for the PVV, and starts addressing the problems.