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Let's ask populists to return their salaries to the EU
by Newropeans-Magazine
2010-04-07 07:50:23
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The 9th of June, there will be parliamentary elections in the Netherlands. The most important question will be how many citizens vote for the right wing populist Party for Freedom (PVV) of Geert Wilders, the party that already won the Dutch European elections last year. Especially the right wing liberals (VVD) have reason to attack Wilders: at least some VVD-voters are likely to vote PVV instead.

Even in Brussels, it has become clear that these elections are near. The VVD-Member of the European Parliament Hans van Baalen attacked his PVV-colleagues this week: PVV would waste European money because they are members of the European Parliament, but they are not part of any parliamentary group. This would make it impossible for the PVV to have an influence on European policies. The PVV was elected on the basis of an anti-european program, and the party always claims that the EU spends too much money. Now, the PVV has become part of the problem.

The leader of PVV in the European Parliament, Barry Madlener, replied that his VVD-colleague is often not present when the parliament votes for actual proposals, while this is the most important task for MEPs. Madlener claims that PVV is always present at these occasions.

This is strange topic. Citizens do not know anything about Europe, they do not know who their MEPs are and they certainly do not know how political groups can influence European policies. They will not be interested that PVV is not a member of a larger political group and that PVV is unable to change policies. From the citizen’s perspective, Madlener is correct that votes are most important, because this affects future policies. Lobbying with other politicians seems uncontrollable, so this is something that MEPs better not do. That political realities are completely different, is irrelevant for many citizens.

When politicians want to attack right wing parties such as PVV, they need to come up with better proposals. They should find issues that are clear for uninformed citizens. A concrete proposal would be to ask the PVV why they claim that Europe is so expensive and that salaries of European politicians are too high. Let’s ask them to start themselves by giving half of their salaries back to the EU.

This criticism on the PVV would be more interesting and convincing for many citizens than a bureaucratic point about political federations in the European Parliament. But VVD-politicians do not want to raise this point, because they would get the same question: right wing liberals also claim that Europe is too expensive, so why don’t they join PVV and return half of their salaries to the EU?


Chris Aalberts*
Amsterdam, The Netherlands


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