Dutch Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren introduced a bill in parliament on February 1 that would limit the amount of funding that political parties in the Netherlands can receive from foreign sources. If the States General, the Dutch parliament, passes the bill, it will affect Geert Wilders’s far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) the most severely. From 2015 to 2017, the PVV received more than 130,000 euros from conservative and anti-Islam groups based in the United States. The move would also damage the left-wing Socialist Party, which received the second-highest amount of funding from sources abroad. Ollongren denied that the proposal had political motivations, stating, “It is mainly about preventing foreign interference.”
Along with the limits on foreign donations, the bill also includes reforms to the state funding of political parties, which is currently calculated based on both the number of party members and the number of elected officials. Historically, this has put the PVV at a disadvantage, as Wilders has limited party membership to only himself in order to completely control the party’s policies. Under the new rules, funding would be based solely on a party’s number of seats in parliament.
It is unclear what chance the bill has of passing the closely divided States General, as the governing coalition has yet to officially come out in support of the limit. The Dutch government has only a two-seat majority in the House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament, and a one-seat majority in the Senate, the upper house. Moreover, that majority is cobbled together from four parties with varied ideologies, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative-liberal People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, the center-right Christian Democratic Appeal, Ollongren’s social-liberal Democrats 66, and the socially conservative Christian Union. However, it is possible that the reduction of foreign influence in domestic politics could appeal to parties across the political spectrum, including those in the opposition.