So, today we are having elections. The most thrilling elections (after the most exciting campaign) we've had for a long, long time. Me and mrs. KV cast our vote this morning (no, I will not share my vote. Legend within out family has it that divulging your vote brings all sorts of political bad luck. And the Dutch truly left should not get any inadvertent help from me being unable to keep my trap shut).
You may remember that the last elections were marred by the Fortuyn murder. The aftermath of the political shaake up left the Netherlands in a state of confusion we are only now recovering from. The elections before that were dominated by the political correctness nazis of the Purple cabinets and were mind numbingly dull.
But this election may be pivotal in shaping the Netherlands in the first half of the 21st century. This realization, though not expressed, seems to *the* reason that the various political leaders are so at each others throat. Subconsciously, everybody feels the stakes are very high.
Having said that, though. What has also been particular to this campaign, was the sense of humor on display. This is not meant as a dig to anyone (except maybe to Femke Halsema of that gathering of crypto-stalinists going by the name of GroenLinks. Even when trying to be humorous she exposed how truly humorless she really is. In that sense she's a true blue leftist). Even when candidates and political leaders got stuck into each other in a decidely unDutch way, they always found a moment to share a laugh or two. Maybe typically Dutch, as we tend to recoil from taking things too seriously. But if so, that is one of the charms of Dutch politics.
Anyway, for good coverage and in-depth analysis I refer you to Pieter Dorsman, who maintains Peaktalk. He's promised to live-blog the election results as they come in.
I will not blog, live or otherwise, for I will be sitting in front of my TV with sweaty palms, a full glass of whisky (to calm the nerves) and a thick down pillow (to scream into) within reach. If the signs are correct this one will be a close one.
[UPDATE001] Yes, I know. I promised not to do this. I can't help myself, okay?
First impression: The truly Left did not win. After the municipal elections last March, the truly Left (Labour, GreenLeft and Socialist Party) were crowing victory, openly speculating on a left wing cabinet. But the PvdA (Labour) received enough of a beating to rule that possibility out.
The current coalition did not win either. The Christian Democrats (CDA) lost 1 seat (as of 22:50 hours local. This may change somewhat), but the liberal conservatives (VVD) received a beating.
The only viable options for a government right now is the only option nobody (or: only 11% of the population) wants: CDA and PvdA with reinforcements of the Christian Union (left wing where they can, right wing where it matters). And maybe that is for the best (I'll get back to that in another post. If I have both time and inclination).
Pieter Dorsman laments the passing of the Fortuyn revolution. I disagree. The astounding victory of the SP seems to indicate that the part of the electorate that is disappointed with mainstream politics has shifted from radically right to radically left. Marijnissen is the new Fortuyn. Maybe not in message, but certainly in appeal to the electorate. Fortunately, the balance of power is such (as of the latest scores) that the SP does not stand a real chance of being part of any coalition (thank God for small favors). See also Ferdy's post above.
Overall conclusion: It could have been much, much worse.
[UPDATE002] Then again, given the high rethoric during the campaign, where especially the PvdA distanced themselves from the CDA, cued by their own voters preference for a truly Left cabinet, you have to wonder wat the chances for such a coalition are. Factoring in that only 11% of the people actually wants a CDA-PvdA coalition makes that scenario a difficults one.
Although I am still convinced, remembering the municipal elections, it could have been so much worse, there is an alternative conclusion one can draw from these results: The Weimar-ification of Dutch politics is now complete.
Which of the two conclusions will hold? At this moment I just don't know.