This is a video of a demonstration in The Hague, the Netherlands, against the war in Afghanistan.
According to Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad, Christian Democrat Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende has made the taxpayers of the Netherlands pay for an expensive Mercedes-Benz S 600 car for him.
If Balkenende really had to buy a Mercedes, then why an S-class, the most expensive “Special class”? If he really had to buy an S-class Mercedes, then why not a S 400 Hybrid; which would have saved the taxpayers half the money?
Why such an expensive car? Security, supporters of Balkenende will claim. However, just like the S 600, the S 400 Hybrid is available in an extra security “Guard” version.
Balkenende preaches asceticism to the mass of people in the Netherlands “because of the economic crisis“. He plans to raise the age at which workers’ old age pensions start from 65 to 67 years. However, he evidently thinks there should be one rule for the people, and quite another rule for himself.
At the moment, it is uncertain for how long Balkenende’s three party government coalition will stay together. NATO is pressuring the Netherlands to continue to contribute to the Afghan war with troops in Uruzgan province. The Dutch government had promised that that military mission would end in 2010. Balkenende now wants to break that promise to the electorate, giving in to NATO.
The PvdA (Dutch Labour), the second biggest of the three parties in the government coalition, now says (like the overwhelming majority of the Dutch people) that the Uruzgan mission should not be continued beyond 2010. Without the PvdA, there would be no majority in parliament for continuing the Uruzgan mission. This clash inside the government has lead to suspicions in the Dutch media that the three party coalition will break up soon.
Just a few days ago, the ruling coalition survived criticism of the prime minister because Balkenende had supported George W. Bush’s illegal Iraq war, and had lied to parliament about that support. Then, like in other cases, like the pensions issue, the PvdA gave in to Balkenende. It is to be hoped that, just for once, they will not break their promises on Afghanistan now; and that Balkenende will become political history.