Politics & Economics

The Migrant Issue Risks Tearing Europe Apart

November 2023
By Gianni Pittella

In the Netherlands, the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Geert Wilders, has won the legislative elections. Following the exit polls, the initial official results also see him in the lead with 23.8% when 64 out of 346 municipalities have been counted. A neck-and-neck race for second place is emerging between the joint list of Social Democrats-Greens (PvDA-GL) led by Frans Timmermans, which gathers 15% of the preferences, and the right-wing liberals (VVD) of the outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, led by Dilan Yesilgoz, which stands at 14.4%. Further behind is the New Social Contract (NSC) of the Christian Democrat Pieter Omtzigt, receiving 13.9%.

It is not certain that Wilders’ victory will lead him to the government because it will be difficult for him to find the support of the absolute majority of members of the new Parliament.

But the victory is there, and it is the result of an electoral campaign based on stopping the invasion of migrants and asylum seekers, holding a referendum to leave the EU, fighting Islamism, and reducing the cost of living.

The resonance between what happened seven years ago in the United Kingdom and what could happen in the Netherlands is all too evident.

Then, a movement clumsily fueled by the lies of characters like Nigel Farage led to the victory of the Brexit supporters, and we have seen the damage that ensued both for the United Kingdom and for the EU.

Today, Wilders’ rewarded propaganda risks opening a new process of detachment from one of the EU’s founding countries.

And at the heart of the sentiment that pushes, irrationally or not, out of the EU is the idea of regaining national sovereignty over these issues.

Now, even someone like me who considers welcoming a duty, especially towards those fleeing wars, violence, and misery, cannot but ask if this right has been placed in a European framework for planning and managing flows where Brussels coordinates, observing the principles of respect for human dignity and the sustainability of flows distributed evenly across the various countries of the Union.

If this issue is not addressed, the real risk is that the European building is dismantled piece by piece by a club that has entered the psyche of many citizens.

It is necessary to explain, clarify, and above all, manage the flows if we do not want to give victory to the wreckers… Orban has already declared “the change is already here.”