October 25th, 2006


Dutch politics for outsiders (9)

Just a few more weeks and the Dutch will be voting again for a new parliament. The election is earlier than anticipated after the cabinet fell last July with the D’66 ministers leaving over the debate about Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Since then we have a minority cabinet, a centre-right coalition of CDA and VVD. Prime minister is still Jan Peter Balkenende. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting This is his third cabinet, with the first two premature finishing and the third time just to bridge the gap until the elections.

On November 22nd the Dutch will have to decide who will rule this country for the next four years. It certainly will be an interesting election. The two main parties seem to be heading for a close finish, the polls indicate a different result every week, though always the two parties are extremely close.

So next to Jan Peter Balkenende and his CDA, we find Wouter Bos and the PvdA. Left against right, but destined to end up in a coalition together. So the first question is who will be the biggest of the two. Both seem to be heading for around 30% of the votes. The winner will have first choice for a coalition partner. This most certainly will not be the loser of the two. Which makes it interesting for other parties, both left and right.

On the right there are the Liberals, VVD, who have been in the government for ages and want to continue governing with the CDA. On the left there are two parties important: SP and Groen Links (green left). During many elections these three parties have lost votes to so called strategic voting. For example somebody supports the SP, but still votes for the PvdA, just to make sure that the biggest left wing party becomes the biggest full stop. This election we might see the opposite. If left nor right will get a majority (which the polls are indicating), the two biggest parties need to co-operate, otherwise there is no government.

The last option might be one of the tiny parties that do get in. There are a few options for a party like D’66, who sneaked into the last government, but couldn’t get their points (political reforms) to make it into laws. Other options are the small right wing parties, who all claim to have some link to Pim Fortuyn, but are basically just extremely conservative and walk the thin line between conservatism and racism.

Which might leave a key role for the Christen Unie. The small Christian Union is doing well in the polls and their leader Andre Rouvoet. He is a well respected politician and has been voted parliamentarian of the year on more than one occasion. Being Christian would make him right wing obviously, though many of his points of view have more in common with the social issues the left want. The seats his party take might decide the election. The results on November 22nd will tell us more.