Dutch PM Rutte compared to Trump in American news
American newspaper the New York Times describes Prime Minister Mark Rutte's open "if you don't like it here, get out" campaign letter as "a strategy that could have come from President Trump's playbook".
In the campaign letter, published in numerous Dutch newspapers on Monday, and an accompanying interview with newspaper AD, Rutte talks about people who do not accept Dutch norms and values and how they should leave the country. He said that the "silent majority" will no longer tolerate those who "abuse our freedoms", talking about behavior ranging from littering to not respecting women or LGBT rights.
According to the New York Times, Rutte's letter seems to be an effort to head its main opponent in the polls - Geert Wilders and his PVV - "by embracing some of Mr. Wilders' populist messages". The newspaper also points out that while Rutte did not explicitly mention Islam and Muslims, "the inference was not lost on anyone".
Rutte's letter was met with criticism from opposition parties, and even from coalition partner PvdA. PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher called Rutte a poor excuse for a populist and accused him of sowing cynicism. GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver criticized Rutte for first saying that his VVD will not work with Wilders and the PVV, and then adopting Wilders' rhetoric. And CDA leader Sybrand Buma wondered why, if he was so concerned about Dutch norms and values changing, why Rutte did nothing about it in the past four years.
Wilders himself posted a video online calling Rutte's letter an act of deceit. "Stop deceiving your own people. It was you who caused the loss of our freedom, our security and our culture", he says in the video. On Twitter he wrote: "Mark Rutte: the man of open borders, the asylum tsunami, the mass immigration, the Islamization, the lies and the deceit."
This election stunt by Rutte and the VVD was somewhat overshadowed by VVD Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice ending up in trouble again over a deal made between then Prosecutor Fred Teeven and drug criminal Cees H. in 2001. Earlier this week journalist Bas Haan revealed that Van der Steur lied to and kept important information from parliament on this matter, first while he was a parliamentarian himself and later while debating the matter as Minster of Security and Justice.