Radical-Right, Anti-Immigration Party in the Netherlands is Reshaping Dutch Immigration Policy

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2018 — While Geert Wilders and his radical-right, anti-immigration Party for Freedom (PVV) failed to secure a victory in the 2017 Dutch parliamentary elections, the country’s experience shows that electoral success and government office are not the only ways to shape policy outcomes.

The PVV has had a significant influence in setting the agenda and narrative on immigration and integration policy in the Netherlands, pushing mainstream conservative parties further right. Amid rising PVV poll numbers during the campaign, the Christian Democratic Appeal proposed a ban on foreign governments financing mosques and Islamic organizations in the Netherlands, while the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy proposed outlawing burqas in public. Last month, the Dutch Senate approved a law banning the wearing of face-covering clothing in schools, government buildings, hospitals and on public transportation.

A new report from the Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration, The Impact of Populist Radical-Right Parties on Immigration Policy Agendas: A Look at the Netherlands, traces the role the PVV and predecessor Pim Fortuyn List have had on Dutch policymaking since the early 2000s and what the experience presages as populist radical-right parties rise across western Europe.

From 2000 to 2015, populist radical-right parties have been included in or supported 17 coalition governments across seven European countries, typically as junior partners to mainstream center-right parties. Yet their biggest influence in shaping immigration-related policy agendas may occur when they are outsiders, through indirect influence.

“Even when they have succeeded in becoming government partners, the recent record of populist radical-right parties has often been marred by minimal policy successes, in-fighting and, ultimately, diminished public support,” writes Tjitske Akkerman, a University of Amsterdam political scientist.

Still, she notes: “As these parties mature and learn how to work in government, they may become smoother operatives, able to adapt to the demands of office and to work the system to their advantage.”

Read the report here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/populist-radical-right-parties-immigration-netherlands.

It is the latest in a Transatlantic Council series focusing on the future of migration policy in an era of growing skepticism about immigration and rising populism. Additional reports will be published over the summer and collected here: www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/transatlantic-council-migration/volatile-political-landscape.