Dutch far-right party FvD and its critics

This 10 December 2018 video says about itself:

Italy’s Fascist Resurgence (Subtitled)

Fascism is on the rise in Italy and is attracting people of all ages. Forza Nuova is the most radical right-wing movement and is rapidly gaining ground, sowing the seeds of intolerance and violence.

In the hills of Italy is a summer camp for kids. The theme? Fascism. 21-year-old Forza Nuova member Giorgia Pagiliuca helps out at the camp. “A lot must change”, she says. “Our country doesn’t help anyone unless they’re immigrants.”

The immigration crisis coupled with the financial crash led to the election of a nationalist government. “There’s a need for a clean-up”, states Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. “Heavy-handedly, if necessary.”

Helping immigrants has become a dangerous business. Don Massimo Biancalani converted his convent to house 100 migrants, but after a seemingly innocuous photo went viral, he has come under fire. “When Salvini posted the picture on his page, and wrote that I am an anti-Italian priest, thousands and thousands of insults ensued in the following days. Even death threats.”

Not far away lies the town of Predappio, Mussolini’s birthplace and burial site, now a place of pilgrimage for tens of thousands of fascists. “[They] feel it was better when Mussolini was around”, says Mayor Giorgio Frasinetti. With violence against migrants on the rise, many are deeply concerned for Italy’s future.

In the Netherlands, there is the FvD party, led by Thierry Baudet. Baudet went to France especially to hear anti-Semite politician Jean-Marie Le Pen. In Amsterdam, he had a long talk with United States neonazi Jared Taylor. Recently, he went to Spain for a rally of the Spanish Franco dictatorship-loving Vox fascists.

By Harm Zonderland in the Netherlands:

Far-right party wins most votes in Dutch provincial elections

30 March 2019

On March 20, provincial councils were elected in all of the 12 provinces of the Netherlands. The most significant outcome of the election was the entrance into the Senate of the Forum for Democracy (FvD), led by Thierry Baudet. The far-right, near-fascist party won 12 out of 75 seats.

It is still uncertain how many seats in the Senate each party will get. The prognosis of 12 seats is based on expecting that all provincial assembly members will vote for their own parties. But that does not always happens in the Netherlands.

The FvD was elected into the House of Representatives for the first time in 2017, when it won two out of 150 seats. In a statement made after the provincial elections Baudet issued a message to prime minister Mark Rutte: “You can no longer ignore the FvD.”

It was the first time that the FvD was running in the provincial elections, and it was among the top three parties in all the provinces. It is the strongest party in Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland, where the capital Amsterdam, the harbor of Rotterdam and the political center in The Hague are situated.

The FvD’s political agenda includes a call for closing the borders. It has been able to capitalize on the xenophobia stoked up by the rightwing-liberal VVD of prime minister Rutte and the far-right Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders.

Dutch daily De Volkskrant, 29 March 2019, has an article on the FvD’s ideas. They want to ban founding new mosques and Islamic schools.

On the same nationalistic grounds, the FvD proposes to leave the European Union. Furthermore, FvD’s leader Thierry Baudet is a so-called “climate change denier”. He was able to gain some working-class support by criticizing government spending on renewable energy rather than on healthcare.

Working-class FvD supporters hurt themselves. In parliament, as the Volkskrant article points out, FvD votes against less expensive rent for housing low-income people. They also vote to make it easier for bosses to sack workers and expand zero-hours contracts. They vote for privatizing healthcare.

In an election debate, Baudet claimed to want more money for education. But the Volkskrant article points out that in parliament, FvD voted against less stress-causing work and more pay for primary school teachers.

FvD wants right-wing schoolchildren to spy on ‘left-wing’ teachers, and denounce them to police and FvD leadership; like the Hitler Youth did in 1930s nazi Germany.

Voter turnout was higher, at 56 percent, than in the previous provincial elections in 2015 when 48 percent of those eligible voted.

The media concentrated their attention on a major consequence of the provincial elections: the composition of the Senate, the First Chamber of Parliament, that is elected by the provincial councils.

While the Senate is to be elected in the coming three weeks, it is already clear the government coalition has lost its small majority. The coalition parties, the right-liberal VVD, the liberal D66 and the Christian democratic CDA, with the exception of the latter, have lost seats.

No, the CDA did lose seats. The exception among the four coalition parties was the smallest of them, the Christian Union, winning one seat (probably, if provincial assembly members vote as expected, like I mentioned).

To get legislation passed through the Senate, the government coalition now has to seek support from opposition parties. Mark Rutte commented: “We will make sure we get majorities. It means a lot of coffee and even more phone calls.”

GroenLinks has eagerly expressed its willingness to co-operate. Its nine senators would be enough for a majority. GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver said: “Last week the government made promises on climate olicy. We will hold them to those promises.” Other parties, like the social-democrats of the PvdA and the right-wing PVV, have made certain demands that are to be met if the government coalition seeks their support.

The main winner of the election is the FvD. Like all fascist parties, both historically and at present, FvD puts forward an extreme right-wing agenda, serving the interests of their capitalist allies and benefactors. They combine nationalism and xenophobia with demagogic promises on issues such as healthcare and education.

Baudet appeals to nationalist sentiments and proposes xenophobic, anti-immigrant policies, using the same methods as Donald Trump with his “America First” rallies and his rants about “immigrant invasions”. While the entire political establishment is planning to place the financial burden of the energy transition on the backs of workers, FvD calls for ending investment in renewable energy resources, claiming that they are “too expensive”.

In addition, Baudet profits from popular discontent with the national government. After decades of austerity and “crisis management,” originally initiated by the social democrats of the PvdA, people have had enough of cuts to social programs, pensions and wages. Baudet publicly denounces the political elite and the “jobs carousel” or “old boys’ network”, appealing to the anger about the political establishment.

However, the political establishment has nothing to fear from Baudet’s denunciations, as those are just for the public. He has gathered a base of supporters in the capitalist class and affluent middle class—by portraying himself as well off and culturally literate, and by referring to art, culture and history in his speeches. In his victory speech, referring to climate policy, Baudet proclaimed: “The Owl of Minerva has come down, to dispel the idol called Transition.”

The rise of fascist tendencies within the ruling circles can be seen in several European countries, from Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD), to Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party and the Dutch Forum for Democracy , but also in the Americas. In Brazil, the recently elected president Jair Bolsonaro is known for his anti-immigrant views, his open admiration of the Brazilian military dictatorship, and his pledges to transnational corporations and the “free market”.

In the US, President Trump openly declared class war by claiming that the “twilight hour of socialism” has arrived, and vowing, “America will never be a socialist country.”

When social democratic parties, Greens, so-called “socialist” and other pseudo-left parties disappoint and betray the working class time and time again, people look for an alternative. And since there is no visible left-wing alternative, some voters stumble into the trap of voting for right-wing parties.

Over 500 Dutch academics signed this letter:

We, educators and researchers working at Dutch universities and research institutes, applied universities and research institutions, are alarmed at the recent actions and statements of the political party, Forum voor Democratie (FvD), and their party leader Thierry Baudet.

With this letter, we heed the message of the minister of Education, who expressed her indignation at Baudet’s attempts to cast universities as suspect institutions and who has called for the protection of academic freedom. We also join university students, teachers, and academics who have expressed their concerns about Baudet and FvD’s position on universities and schools.

In his post-election speech last week, Tuesday, Baudet claimed that ‘our boreal world’ was being ‘destroyed’ and ‘undermined’ by ‘our universities, our journalists, and those who receive our arts subsidies and design our buildings.’ Such statements are meant to conjure up a conspiratorial atmosphere in which academics, journalists, artists and architects are not only seen as suspect. They are deemed guilty of the ‘destruction’ of our society, and portrayed as the enemy of the people.

These statements are especially worrying because the FvD is attempting to put Baudet’s rhetoric into practice by opening the ‘meldpunt indoctrinatie op scholen en universiteiten’ (hotline for reporting indoctrination at schools and universities). They have called upon individuals to report ‘biased tests, politically tinted exam questions, one-sided textbooks, oikophobic projects, and prejudiced teachers.’ Given the strong interest Baudet expresses in dismissing climate science and promoting history based on national pride, it is clear that this initiative is not genuinely interested in reducing bias in academic institutions. Rather, it is interested in selectively discounting knowledge that does not fit its political and ideological aims.

Yet, all this takes place in a context where the latest nation-wide investigation into academic freedoms, conducted by the KNAW, concluded that there is no danger of auto-censorship due to a lack of diversity in political views within Dutch academia. Rather it revealed that the main potential threat to academic freedom came from political and economic interests external to academia.

Recent international examples show us how universities are put at risk and academic freedoms are infringed upon as a result of the rise of right wing populism.

Dear letter authors: unfortunately, like many othrers, you misuse the word ‘populism’.

From Bolsanaro in Brazil to Trump in the US, from Orban in Hungary to Erdogan in Turkey. We witness how watchlists of ‘suspect’ academics, public discrediting of scientific knowledge, and political attacks on institutional funding for education and research are used as methods to close down spaces for critical debate, further marginalize minorities and women, and consolidate the power of authoritarian parties.

This is why we as academic staff at universities must be careful to recognize and respond to such developments in the Netherlands clearly: our society will not tolerate any political infringement on the freedom to conduct critical academic research and education.

Are you an academic employee at a hogeschool, university or research-institute in the Netherlands and would you like to add your signature, please send an email to bezorgdeacademici@gmail.com

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