Dutch elections, no new government yet

This video is about a trade union demonstration in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, against government austerity plans.

By Dietmar Henning in Germany:

Grand coalition government formed in the Netherlands

15 September 2012

Wednesday’s parliamentary elections in the Netherlands returned former Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the free market Volkspartij voor Vrijheids [sic; Vrijheid] en Democratie (VVD, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) to office, to the surprise of many.

This sentence, like the headline, is wrong. Rutte’s VVD became the biggest party, but they are a minority in parliament. At least theoretically, it is possible that other parties will form a coalition government without the VVD.

On the night when the election results became known, Rutte said that his rightist government policies should continue. But the other victor of the elections, Diederik Samsom of the PvdA (Labour) party, said that the rightist policies of Rutte had been defeated and should not continue. In the outgoing parliament, Rutte’s VVD-CDA government had a majority of 77 seats of 150, together with Geert Wilders‘ xenophobic PVV party. Though the VVD won seats, they won less than what CDA and PVV lost. There is no longer a VVD-CDA-PVV majority.

The new government, which will most likely include the Social Democrats, has already announced a sharp attack on workers’ social rights.

The VVD received 26.6 percent of the vote, gaining 41 seats in the 150-member Lower House, ten more than in the past. The social-democratic Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA) received 24.8 percent. With 39 seats, an increase of nine, they are now the second-largest party.

Leading PvdA candidate Diederik Samsom immediately agreed to enter into a coalition government with Rutte and the VVD. “The Netherlands needs a strong and stable government as soon as possible,” he stated, “and the Social Democrats have today offered their cooperation.”

It is not certain that negotiations between the VVD and PvdA will go smoothly, or will succeed. In the election campaign, Mr Samsom, ex Greenpeace activist, won by posturing as a more Left politician than earlier PvdA leaders like the Blairish Wim Kok. If Samsom would now agree to join the VVD in an anti-worker government, then, Dutch election pollster Maurice de Hond says, PvdA voters might run away very fast, which the leadership would not like.

The anti-immigrant Party for Freedom (PVV) of Geert Wilders dropped from 24 to 15 seats. The Socialist Party (SP), which led the polls a few weeks before the election and whose leading candidate Emile Roemer was even treated as a future prime minister, won only 15 seats.

The Christian Democrats (CDA) and their lead candidate Sybrand Buma obtained just 13 seats, eight fewer than in the past. It is the worst result in the history of the Christian Democrats, who for decades dominated Dutch politics.

The liberal “Democrats 66” (D66) won two more seats, obtaining twelve deputies in the parliament. Since there is no minimum threshold required to enter parliament in the Netherlands, five more parties will be represented, including the Greens, who lost seven seats and now only have three deputies. The Pirate Party, which contested the elections, failed to win enough votes to enter parliament; only 0.3 percent of voters supported them in the ballot. Around 74 percent of the twelve million registered voters participated in the election.

During the election campaign, the VVD had announced plans to impose more savage cuts. In the health sector alone, the party wants to cut seven billion euros (US$9.2 billion). Their likely coalition partner, the PvdA, is set to support this programme. In the election campaign, the PdvA’s [sic; PvdA] only obvious difference with the VVD was that they wanted to implement the cuts over a somewhat longer time span.

The new government will lead a frontal attack on workers’ rights. Consumption taxes will rise, health care will be slashed and pensions cut. The unemployed will be forced into low-wage work by a reform of unemployment benefits modelled on Germany’s Hartz IV program, introduced by German social democrats (SPD) and the Greens. Plans for this are already drawn up.

Given massive public opposition to such measures, it is possible that the two government parties, despite their ten-vote majority in parliament, will bring a third party into the government to help enforce these attacks.

Could the [Dutch] Socialist Party build on its election results? Here.

Halt to child refugee deportations urged, pending coalition talks: here.

7 thoughts on “Dutch elections, no new government yet

  1. Ministers push for €6bn cuts

    NETHERLANDS: The centrist government faced a sceptical Parliament today as it tried to justify €6 billion (£5bn) cuts for 2014 – around 2.5 per cent of the budget.

    A previous round of spending cuts and tax rises this year sent the economy into a deep recession.

    Most voters oppose further cuts.

    Unions say more cuts would jeopardise an accord with employers and the government that has so far kept strikes to a minimum.



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