Dutch Prime Minister Dick Schoof

New Prime Minister Dick Schoof faced a baptism of fire at the opening of the Dutch parliament over remarks by two cabinet ministers about a conspiracy theory with neo-Nazi roots.

Shouf was inaugurated with fanfare on Tuesday to head a coalition government dominated by right-wing leader Geert Wilders and his anti-immigration Freedom Party PVV.

Two days later, the new Dutch prime minister’s first lower house debate erupted into chaos when not only the opposition but Wilders himself aimed their arrows at Schoof, his own choice for the top job.

For his first foray into the bear pit of Dutch parliamentary politics, Schoof, a seasoned civil servant marked by obstruction and sniping at the X, could not have prepared for what he officially called It’s called Twitter.

At the center of the controversy are two ministers in Wilders’ PVV cabinet: new asylum and migration minister Marjolein Faber and foreign trade and development aid minister Renate Clever.

Both have spoken out in the past about so-called “Omulking” – the Dutch term for the “great replacement theory” which assumes that Europe’s white population is being deliberately replaced by immigrants.

Although both ministers “distanced themselves” from the term, they maintained that there was a “disturbing demographic development” in the Netherlands, where the ruling coalition now wants to implement “the strictest immigration policy ever”.

Isolated

But Shoaf reiterated during the debate: “I repeat, this government is against discrimination, racism and exclusion.”

The Dutch left-wing opposition accused Schoof of tolerating those who have made “conspiratorial” and “racist” remarks — including criticism of the veil — in his ministerial team. .

Wilders himself then attacked Shoaf, calling Shoaf’s response “weak” for not defending his ministers as “racist”.

“The Prime Minister must distance himself from this immediately, I will accept nothing less!” Wilders said on X.

Schoof, unaffiliated with any party and appointed by the four-party coalition of the PVV, the liberal VVD, the farmer-friendly BBB and the new center-right NSC, appeared isolated from all sides.

Leiden politics professor Ruud Cole told AFP the first debate was a litmus test to see how far the PVV’s junior coalition parties would go to normalize extreme views within Wilders’ party. .

“It goes a long way,” he said.

“Statements about ‘great change’ by PVV ministers in the past have been swept under the carpet,” Cole said.

“All three other coalition parties have accepted the redefining of the ‘great alternative’ as a “demographic trend,” he said.

‘disgusting’

Wilders, who claimed a landslide victory in last year’s parliamentary elections, leads his party as an MP.

He abandoned ambitions to become Dutch prime minister after other coalition parties threatened to withdraw because of his anti-Islam and Eurosceptic views.

Wilders said he wanted to limit immigration to the Netherlands “as much as possible”, but called the idea of ​​a “great alternative” really “disgusting”.

But during the debate, he aimed his barbs at Schoof for not defending ministers made by the left, according to Wilders, “racists”.

Wilders’ anger was quickly followed by criticism of X by the junior coalition partner leaders of the VVD and the NSC.

“I was particularly struck by how defensive Wilders was and how he tried in such a fanatical and authoritarian way to reject the racism that he saw,” said Sarah Breck, professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam. K’s party clearly propagates in different ways.”

“It is intellectually and politically unacceptable to continue to deny that the ideas at the heart of the PVV and its government are not racist, or that the term ‘Great Alternative’ is more radicalized. It would be enough not to mention it, and the racist thoughts go away,” he told AFP.

“If Mr. Wilders continues to criticize his prime minister, it could lead to Shoaf’s resignation,” Leiden University’s Cole added.

“But we’re not there yet,” he said.

(Other than the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

(tag to translate)Dick Schoof(T)Dutch PM(T)Geert Wilders



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