Dutch, French Nationalists to Jointly Contest Election

Both oppose the European Union and Muslim immigration, but the Dutch are socially liberal.

Marine Le Pen, leader of France's Front national, May 13, 2007
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s Front national, May 13, 2007 (Front nationale)

French nationalist party leader Marine Le Pen welcomes her Dutch counterpart Geert Wilders’ proposal to join forces in next year’s European parliamentary elections. “All patriotic parties that fight for their identity, fight for sovereignty, should unite in the European elections,” she told Dutch state broadcaster NOS on Tuesday.

Wilders, a Euroskeptic and anti-Islam politician whose Freedom Party outpolled both the ruling Labor and liberal parties in a recent survey, had long shunned affiliation with other anti-immigration parties in Europe.

But he told the AD newspaper last month that “much has changed” in the Front national. “Marine Le Pen has broken with the past. What’s important for me is that it’s distanced itself from anything to do with antisemitism,” he said.

Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, who founded and long led the party, made antisemitic remarks throughout his political career and opposes gay marriage. Wilders strongly supports both Israel and minority rights, claiming both are threatened by Islam.

Le Pen and Wilders resist immigration especially from Muslim countries, but have emphasized their Euroskepticism in recent years as popular dissatisfaction with the sovereign debt crisis and austerity mounted.

“Patriotic” bloc

In a speech in Los Angeles, California last month, Wilders cited the rise of Euroskeptic parties like his own as proof that a “new patriotism” is emerging on the continent, one that could simultaneously “liberate the nations of Europe” from the European Union and fend off what he considers the Islamization of Western culture.

He added in the AD interview last month, “If we join our forces, we can get much done.”

The Front national and Freedom Party are currently unaffiliated in the European Parliament. With three and four seats respectively, their influence on policymaking is limited.

Likeminded parties, such as Denmark’s People’s Party, Italy’s Lega Nord and Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party, belong to the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group which has less than 5 percent of the seats. It also includes socially conservative Polish and Slovak parties whose views on abortion, euthanasia and gay rights are contrary to Wilders’.

The Dutch politician also met Flemish nationalist Filip Dewinter in Antwerp on Friday to discuss cooperation, but no formal agreement between them was reached.

Comments

  1. Excuse me, but since WHEN does the platform of Wilders and his PVV represent “Dutch nationalism?” Dutch nationalism first came about in the late 1500s in the struggle against Habsburg Spain and developed into the defense of religious liberty and humanism. Dutch nationalism is about a politics of consensus and inclusion, not exclusion, which eventually accepted Catholics into the Dutch nation. Religious tolerance is a part of Dutch nationalism and national identity.

    Your argument is one where “nationalism” is the exclusion of the Other, which can be found in traditional ideas about national identity. However – the Netherlands is quite different. The Netherlands is a nation that has NO fixed religious faith, is a nation of religious minorities of different cultures for about four centuries- and there really is no fix constellation of what it means to be “Dutch.” One cannot describe Dutch nationalism like that of French nationalism. Hating Muslims is what French nationalists and “Dutch nationalists” have in common. Wilders and the PVV stand for opposites in both Dutch nationalism and Dutch culture and national identity – as Pim Fortuyn. There is nothing Dutch nationalistic about the PVV and it, like Fortuyn, is more of a wrecking ball against Dutch culture and national identity, not defenders of them.

  2. Thanks for your comment, eslaporte. You might not have read my bio, so let me first say that a) I’m Dutch and b) an historian. So I quite agree with the things you say about Dutch “nationalism,” although I’m not sure if that’s what defines Dutch nationalism so much as it it defines the Dutch. Although we struggle to define just what it means to be Dutch…

    I do think “nationalist” is the best way to describe Wilders and it seems to me that’s increasingly how he sees himself as well. You might also be interested in an article I wrote last month on that very topic. He sees himself as “protecting” the Dutch nation against forces, whether it’s the European Union or Islamism, that would undermine the Netherlands’ sovereignty as well as its cultural homogeneity. Whether you agree with that or not is another debate — and clearly you don’t, or you wouldn’t describe Wilders as “hating Muslims” — but how else should we describe this if not as “nationalist”?

  3. If what you report on isn’t scary enough, for Wilders to speak in L.A. and to have Americans understand his language the way eslaporte above obviously does, makes things worse.
    Merely using the word national with our without caps is open to different interpretations.
    Dutch English, British English, American English, East Indian English (to name a few) all give different meaning to what at first glance looks like the same word. Idioms differ in subtle and less subtle ways.
    It’s my experience that none Dutch nationals (lower case) often “read” different things in what a Dutch national writes from a present P.O.V., thus misunderstanding abounds, without even going into historic meaning.
    Enter Babbalonia, the tower of Babel all over again.
    This said, the notion that Wilders would speak for Dutch Nationals is a curse, a gotspa, a frickin’ scary idea.