Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Rutte I and the Old Boys Network

by Nomad Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 08:42:12 AM EST


Source

More than 4 months after the Dutch general elections in June, the new Dutch government will today be sworn in, led by the 43-years old foreman of the VVD (Liberals), Mark Rutte, as the new prime-minister of The Netherlands. The new cabinet is a minority coalition of VVD and the CDA (Christian Democrats), supported only by 52 seats whereas 76 parliamentary seats are required for a majority.

The cabinet of the selected 12 ministers and 8 secretaries of state can hardly be accused of being inexperienced, but are a mockery to invigorating politics: except for 3 women, it consists of old men, most of them being veteran politicians. Most of them are very well-connected to the two leaders of the two parties, or were closely involved with the process of forming the government. The word "clique" can come to mind.

With the government, national politics in the Netherlands will bank towards pet subjects of the right, some of them completely unattainable, while none of the major issues are to be addressed, spelling further ill news for the country. Conspicuously absent from the ceremony is Geert Wilders, whose wet dream is coming true with this government: the minority government of CDA and VVD is propped up in power only by the stranglehold of the anti-Islam populist party who will have no governmental responsibility. What really matters, however, is how the stability of the government will cope, as it balances on a hair's breadth.


Dutch Parliament contains 150 seats, thus 76 seats are necessary to form a majority. VVD became in June the biggest party with 31 seats, while the CDA lost seats and kept 21. With the 24 seats of the party of Wilders, this makes 76 seats – the smallest possible majority if all parties vote as a block. And this is exactly the problem. While it was unsurprising to see that the hawkish Verhagen, now becoming the country's no. 2 as Deputy Prime Minister, would shuttle the CDA even further to the right, the result has been an open schism in the party with members of the party in fundamental disagreement about cooperation with Wilders. This has already resulted in the walk-out of two prominent CDA members, and what's worse for the stability of the CDA, two members of the 21 MP have publicly expressed their distrust and antipathy for working with Wilders.

The typical party discipline clamped down in the past week, and the two dissidents have given their vote of approval to the new government – for now.

Not all is lost for the scramble of votes that will continuously be part of Dutch politics as of today. Because there still is the Party of Fossils, whom I described in 2006 as:

European Tribune - The Dutch Political Right

The Dutch Christian Fundies.  They are the oldest political party, have never been in the government and for as long as I remember are stuck with two to three seats in parliament. Perhaps they could have twice as many seats, if the party wasn't constantly proclaiming that women have no role in politics and shouldn't be entitled to vote. Most of their adherents come forth from the Dutch Bible Belt. [..] Hopefully by 2050 the party will finally collapse under the influence of inbreeding and sheer stupidity.

The SGP was, again, awarded with 2 seats this election, and having climbed on the honking band-wagon of Islam-scare as any insanely fundamentalist Christian party, they could potentially plug the gap if the two CDA dissidents refuse to buckle. Of course any party could plug the gap, but the SGP aligns eerily often with Wilders, supporting about 30% of the proposed motions of the Wilders bunch.

Internal friction will likely be a far more interesting dynamic in the coming time than watching the opposition parties formulate an answer to the current shift to right-wing power. The PvdA (Labour), so jubilant when Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen took over the party's leadership, looks adrift and sullen in their new opposition role, even while they form the largest opposition party with 30 seats. The Socialist Party, which took a heavy beating in the elections similarly struggles with its new foreman. D66 and Green Left, fitted with capable and experienced leaders, are looking more ready for battle against the tide of Wilders. It is possible that a new political alignment may form: with the CDA now showing its true face by moving out of the centre, a gap yawns in the political middle. The PvdA could make the final leap to become a centrist party and let the Socialist Party become the only real party on the left flank. Cohen may be the right man for doing just that, but this remains all very speculative on my part.

Display:
In those black duits they look like a bunch of City bankers...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 09:19:06 AM EST
What are the first policy proposals, and what are their chances to be stopped by internal struggle?

What about the internal mechanisms of the Wilders party? Would it be possible that some members rebel against welfare cut plans, or are all no-names faithful to the Bleached One?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 12:47:56 PM EST
Haven't worked my way through the coalition agreement, but the ones I know from head:
  • maximum speed on highways will be increased (from 120 to 130)
  • cut funding on art, cut free museum entry for youth
  • allow smoking again inside one-man bars (those bars only run by the owner)
  • funding to environment NGOs will be cut
  • possibility for a second nuclear plant

What the first actual proposal will be to be tested in parliament remains to be seen - I have no idea. We're in for the ride.

There is one notable member of the Wilders faction, Hero Brinkman, who has been making noise for some time now about increasing transparency in the opaque cloud that is the undemocratic Wilders party - but I wouldn't bet at all on internal strife very soon.

by Nomad on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 05:50:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That really does sound like a macho platform...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 06:25:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Radio Netherlands via Nomad a week ago:
No more talking - it's testosterone time
"The time for talking is over, the time for action has arrived," populist De Telegraaf announces dramatically. All the papers lead with the news that the two Christian Democrat "dissidents" Ad Koppejan and Kathleen Ferrier have finally agreed to toe the party line, removing the final obstacle to a VVD-CDA coalition resting on the parliamentary support of Geert Wilders' far-right Freedom Party.


By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 03:23:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's important to notice that the coalition (+ Wilders) doesn't have a majority in the upper chamber (Eerste Kamer). Even including the SGP they are one seat short (75 seats in total, 38 needed for a majority. CDA+VVD=35, SGP has 2, Wilders has none). That means they will have great difficulty getting any controversial laws through until march, though they of course will be able to change policies.
by Anspen on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 05:49:47 PM EST
Just to underline how the people in the SGP tick:

DutchNews.nl - Fundamentalist Christian party takes ban on women to Europe

Fundamentalist Christian party SGP is to ask the European court of human rights to uphold its ban on women becoming MPs.

The SGP opposes voting rights for women but was forced to open its prospective MP list after a ruling by the Dutch high court in April.

The court then ruled women have the right to be included on the party's official list of candidates and the state has a duty to ensure they have this right in practice.

Freedom of religion

In doing so, the court put equal rights legislation above freedom of religion rules.

The SGP operates according to a strict interpretation of the Bible and believes that the country should be governed 'entirely on the basis of the ordinances of God'.

by Nomad on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 08:17:21 PM EST
ask the European court of human rights to uphold its ban on women

LOL, good luck with that!

On what planet would the court of Human Rights agree with that!?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:02:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It just looks like CDA may have found a third dissident who is opposed to cooperation with Wilders. This is because a few CDA MPs moved into government, leaving their seats behind. These seats are now filling up with other CDA politicians, and at least one of them has publicly come out against working with Wilders.

For the number game this means that IF all three CDA dissidents would vote against a motion while the rest of CDA, VVD and PVV and SGP would vote along, the vote would end in a parliamentary draw. And I actually have no idea what happens then.

In reality, we'll have to see how much division the CDA actually may get. It always has been a party which can close the ranks, particularly when their political power is at risk.

by Nomad on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 08:29:11 PM EST
a few CDA MPs moved into government, leaving their seats behind

What? You cannot be both a minister and a member of parliament in the Netherlands?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 02:01:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Part of the separation of powers between executive and legislative I believe.
by Nomad on Fri Oct 15th, 2010 at 06:27:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]