A view from outside

Over at Pajamas, Barry Rubin takes a fair stab at the Dutch political scene after the recent general elections and what the changes to it might mean for Europe at large: Is Europe Awakening to Islamist Threat?
Take the Netherlands as a case study. After elections last month, the parties of the center-right hold 83 seats, while those of the left have 67. Since there are ten parties in parliament, talks to form a coalition government will last for weeks, especially since the two largest have only twenty percent each. In the elections, only three seats changed hands between blocs.
But the big news was the shift within the center-right — the rise of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (PVV) led by the controversial Geert Wilders, which almost tripled its presence from 9 to 24 seats.
Going on to describe how the might of the current Dutch establishment was deployed to marginalize Wilders, despite the growing problems as a result of virtually unchecked immigration from predominantly muslim countries, Mr. Rubin notes that while Wilders' PVV tripled in size, the other big winner were the liberal conservative VVD, a party that has much in common with the PVV. Even parties of the center (right *and* left) seem to be shifting towards the PVV point of view.

This leads Rubin to the conclusion that '55 percent of Dutch voters backed parties that want a real change in key policies', following up with the question: Why is nothing dramatic likely to happen? Remembering the other 45% of the Dutch and our history of striving hard for consensus, Mr. Rubin thinks that some kind of broad coalition will likely emerge.

Whether that is really the case, remains to be seen. Today the informateur (the guy asked to investigate the options for a coalition government) will offer his final report to a 'concerned' Queen, reporting that so far all options are non-starters due to the reluctance of some key partners in the proposed coalitions.

However. Mr. Rubin is quite optimistic. He writes that outsiders would view this situation of deadlock between the political left and right in Holland with such different overall visions of Dutch politics and society as a big problem. In contrast, the Dutch believe they thrive on this kind of paradox, finding some compromise to ease them through.


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