Dilan Yesilgöz, the leader of the centre-Right liberal party (VVD) list in the upcoming Dutch elections, said she would not dismiss the possibility of working with the leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) Geert Wilders ahead of the vote.
Ever since Wilders dropped his support for the Dutch minority government in 2012, former VVD-leader Mark Rutte has wanted nothing more to do with him. Rutte also demanded Wilders drop his polemic stances against Islamic migration, most importantly the demand for “fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands.
But now, with difficult elections ahead and an extremely fragmented political landscape, Rutte’s successor is ditching the informal “cordon sanitaire” around Wilders’ PVV party. Yesilgöz dubbed the old strategy a “bothersome hassle from The Hague”, saying it was a form of politicking that doesn’t serve the Constituency.
Instead, she said, “I am mainly concerned with who sits at the table with what intentions?”
Yesilgöz, who is of Turkish descent, described Wilders’ 2014 “fewer Moroccans” statement as reprehensible but said she wanted to now concentrate on the future. She pointed out that Wilders immediately took a constructive stance after the fall of the Dutch Cabinet.
Proposals need to focus on “constructive cooperation”, said Yesilgöz. “I do not exclude any voter, party leaders should come up with proposals. It is a unique moment with so many new political leaders.”
On other issues though, parties are further apart, she said when asked about asylum policy. “That is obvious. But problems around asylum and migration have not gone away.”
In a press conference, Rutte, who is still serving as Prime Minister of the Netherlands, said he backed Yesilgöz. “Yes, I agree. Am not going to say anything else about it. She is now the one who gives direction to the party. I support her lead.”
Wilders reacted positively to the new direction of the VVD. On X, formerly Twitter, he wrote: “The PVV is keen to cooperate with other parties and to take responsibility for solving the Netherlands’ big problems, eg a much stricter asylum policy. We ourselves do not exclude any party in advance and it is good news if other parties don’t either!”
De PVV wil graag met andere partijen samenwerken en verantwoordelijkheid nemen om de grote problemen van Nederland op te lossen, zoals bijv. een veel strenger asielbeleid. Wij sluiten zelf bij voorbaat geen partij uit en het is goed nieuws als andere partijen dat ook niet doen! https://t.co/h1Meypkgb9
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) August 18, 2023
The new party leader of the Christian Democratic CDA Henri Bontenbal said on August 14 that he did not see Wilders’ PVV as a possible partner. CDA was also a member of the government that fell in 2012 when the PVV removed its support.