Gidi Markuszower (R) of the PVV, during a parliamentary debate. EPA-EFE/BART MAAT


Dutch PVV party candidate to lead migration barred after security check


The Netherlands’ Party for Freedom (PVV) suffered an awkward setback after its preferred candidate for Minister of Asylum and Migration was turned down over a problematic security screening.

On June 13, PVV leader Geert Wilders announced that Gidi Markuszower, who was shortlisted to become vice-minister and minister of migration in the new centre-right Dutch Government, had been dropped as a candidate.

Instead, the post will be for his PVV colleague, MP Marjolein Faber.

“The content of the reference about Gidi Markuszower was reason for me to withdraw his candidacy,” Wilders wrote on X.

“I just informed the lead negotiator of this. I have now nominated Marjolein Faber, Member of Parliament and previously PVV-fraction leader in the Senate, as candidate Minister of Asylum and Migration.

In the Netherlands, those hoping to become ministers are screened by the secret services and the tax authorities. They also undergo criminal-record checks.

There has been no official communication about the specific issues with Markuszower.

He reacted disappointedly to the decision, calling it “Kafkaesque”.

“An average terrorist seems to have more rights than a politician with a sharp opinion,” he said.

The politician was known as a hardliner on migration, sharply criticising the progressive policies of the previous government.

In reaction to the developments, the opposition questioned whether Markuszower could remain in parliament.

The left-wing Denk party President, Stephan Van Baarle, said: “So Wilders nominated someone who … cannot be a minister. Then such a person shouldn’t be a member of parliament either, right?”

A spokesperson for the progressive Liberal D66 party noted that MPs must meet the highest standards. “They hold an even higher office than ministers,” he said and wondered how Markuszower could pass the screening for parliament but not for government.

GreenLeft-PvdA party leader Frans Timmermans said Wilders had been making “blunder after blunder” for six months, while the coalition parties remained silent. “Ashamed? Or is this the new governance culture?” he wondered on X.

It is not the first time Markuszower has had problems, public broadcaster NOS noted.

In 2010 he recused himself from the PVV’s candidate list after he was described as a “risk for the integrity of the Netherlands” due to his alleged ties to foreign entities to which he was accused of having given sensitive information.

Markuszower, who was born in Tel Aviv, has always adamantly denied these allegations.

The politician is pro-Israel and pro-Jewish and has described Dutch Jews who has accused Israel of war crimes as “snitches”.

“I don’t think Jews should publicly attack their own group. I see it as a betrayal,” Markuszower said in an interview with the newspaper Trouw in 2010.

His activism within the Jewish community and the Dutch branch of Likud, the political party of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, decreased over time as he intensified his efforts with the PVV, focusing on migration issues since 2015.

Markuszower maintained his firebrand-style, though, often angering political opponents with his strong rhetoric.

In 2021, during a debate he said: “It is disgusting that Dutch citizens are trampled by their own government in their own country, while fortune seekers from Africa and backward Middle Eastern desert countries are coddled by the same government.

“And you, all of you here as well, who do not stop this self-hating policy, you should all be brought before a tribunal,” he added.

In the same year, he characterised refugees as “mostly economically disadvantaged, combat-ready, male immigrants who hate Western culture because they come from Islamic countries”.

Also in 2021, while speaking in parliament, he said former minister Sigrid Kaag, who is married to a Palestinian, surrounded herself with terrorists.

Faber, who is close to Wilders, has also tended to be outspoken in her viewpoints.

In October 2015, she was reprimanded by the then-Chair of the Senate when she called her fellow parliamentarians “fake representatives”. Faber refused to retract her statement.

In 2022, she was blocked from speaking after she had asked Prime Minister Mark Rutte if “the fifth column is not sitting at the government table”.

“Fifth column” refers to a group of people who secretly undermine a larger group or nation from within, typically to aid an external enemy.