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Consistency of Tolerance, Public Opinion on Immigrants in the Netherlands at the Turn of the Millennium

Louk Hagendoorn, Edwin Poppe

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In this paper we examine whether people in the Netherlands are consistently tolerant towards culturally different immigrant groups using data of a representative national survey of 1998. Tolerance is defined as respecting the choices of others, even those one finds personally undesirable or objectionable. It appears that between 40 and 50 percent of the Dutch population is tolerant and their tolerance is remarkably consistent. They respect deviant gender and parent-child relations among immigrants. They reject right-wing extremists, but respect the social and political liberties of extremists. Furthermore, they are not prejudiced, do not distance themselves from immigrants, and grant them equal rights. They endorse individual freedom and resist attempts to close the national ranks against immigrants. In almost all these respects tolerant people differ from intolerant people, with the exception of one factor: the tolerant are skeptical of the immigrants’ true political loyalty to the Netherlands.

Keywords: tolerance – consistency of political beliefs – the Netherlands