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Overview (10579) :: Netherlands (15)



Netherlands :: Immigration Issues   ::   Print this Article
GEERT WILDERS: LET THE DUTCH CITIZENS VOTE ON IMMIGRATION POLICY
11-19-2015 7:14 pm - Geert Wilders - NY Times Op-Ed
The Hague ó The first thing France did after last Fridayís terrorist attacks in Paris was to temporarily close its borders. It was a wise move. The attacks showed just how unsafe Europe has become as a result of the European Unionís open border policies and decades of foolish decisions by governments across the Continent to open their doors to mass immigration from Islamic countries.

Mass immigration changes countries beyond recognition. Ordinary people are well aware of that. In 2008, before the current crisis, a poll in the Netherlands already showed that a majority of Dutch citizens considered the importation of huge numbers of immigrants to be the biggest mistake in their countryís postwar history.

Unfortunately, there is a tendency among political elites to distrust the opinions of ordinary people. They are perceived to base their views on dark instincts and unjustified fears, rather than on rational choices. European voters, however, are highly educated, and it is ridiculous to suppose they can be easily fooled or manipulated.

We should respond to the current migration crisis by relying on the wisdom of the people and putting crucial national policies to a vote in binding referendums. This is an existential crisis that is leading to the dilution of national identity and the loss of security at a moment when the European Union has also robbed member nations of their sovereignty and the right to conduct their own asylum policies.

Europeís political elite has lost touch with the people. Citizens no longer feel represented by their national governments and parliaments.

Thatís why there has been growing support for parties like my own Party for Freedom in the Netherlands. Polls indicate that if elections were held today, we would be the largest party in the country.

We oppose a centralized Europe, because we realize the importance of national sovereignty and controlling our own borders. Without sovereignty, a nation cannot exist. Without borders, it canít be defined or protected. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany gave people in the Middle East the impression that they were welcome in Germany. This was foolish, because millions now want to come to Western Europe. But other European countries should not be the victims of Ms. Merkelís policies. Nor should they be forced to help Germany. The Poles, Hungarians, Slovaks and Czechs are entitled to have different priorities. And so are we. Our political and moral compass is not the Bundeskanzlei in Berlin, or the European Commission in Brussels.

There is a perfectly good alternative to the European Union ó it is called the European Free Trade Association, founded in 1960. Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are members. E.F.T.A. stands for friendship and cooperation through free trade. It does not rob anyone of sovereignty, it doesnít aim for the political unification of its member states, but members do have access to the internal European market.

Leaving the European Union would, according to one expert study, be economically beneficial for the Netherlands; it would also allow our country to adopt its own asylum policies. We do not want to jeopardize our values by bringing in large numbers of people from a less liberal and less secular culture. Nor do we want to fall victim to increasing terrorism. Of course, genuine refugees are entitled to a safe haven. But we believe that they should be accommodated in their own region. Itís a disgrace that there are no resettlement schemes in the immensely rich Persian Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. These countries have a moral obligation to take in their fellow Muslims.

Many Dutch voters are finally waking up to what we have been saying for years. Unfortunately, Dutch political elites suffer from the fatal arrogance of thinking they know better than the people. The democratic deficit in our society isnít caused only by the transfer of sovereignty to Brussels but also by the lack of ways in which citizens can correct their elected representatives and governments at the national level. To avoid what Thomas Jefferson called ďelective despotism,Ē we need to introduce direct democracy.

We need a system like Switzerlandís, in which people have the opportunity to hold regular binding referendums whenever they feel that elected representatives are acting against the peopleís will. Itís no coincidence that the Swiss never sold out their interests to Brussels. In a direct democracy, citizens exercise sovereignty directly and without mediation.

Dutch law actually allows consultative referendums. Next April, we will vote on the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine. But the conditions for holding referendums are very rigid. Opponents of a bill accepted in Parliament have to collect 10,000 valid signatures in 28 days after the acceptance of the bill, followed by 300,000 more within the next 42 days (thatís about 2 percent of all Dutch citizens). Moreover, the referendum is valid only if 30 percent of the electorate votes, and even then it will not be binding.

In Switzerland, any law passed by Parliament can be overruled if opponents manage to collect 50,000 valid signatures within 100 days and then vote. Voters can also propose new legislation, if they succeed in collecting 100,000 valid signatures within 18 months. And the outcome is always binding, no matter how high or low the turnout.

The Netherlands would benefit from direct democracy. In a time of crisis, we need the wisdom of the people.

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SOURCE: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/20/opinion/geert-wilders-the-dutch-deserve-to-vote-on-immigration-policy.html?_r=0


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