As most readers already know, the Dutch government fell apart last week, which means that there will be a general election in a few months. One would expect the popularity of Geert Wilders to guarantee his party (the PVV) an influential role in whatever government emerges after the elections — if the Netherlands were a healthy democracy.
But the Netherlands is not a healthy democracy. At least some of the major parties that make up the permanent Dutch ruling oligarchy are already closing ranks and attempting to form a cordon sanitaire around the PVV and thus deny it a voice in the future government.
Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated a pair of articles on the topic. First, from De Trouw:
(Resigned) State Secretary: No party should co-operate with PVV
The resigned State Secretary of European Affairs, Frans Timmermans [PvdA, Socialists] recommends that parties that do not want to govern with the PVV should put their heads together. As a group they should prevent Geert Wilders’ party from gaining influence in the government.
The PVV might form a new Cabinet [government] or support one, as Wilders has indicated. To the resigned State Secretary Frans Timmermans, it is paramount that both options should not become reality. In his eyes, the Netherlands is at a watershed, because Wilders wants to “shunt population groups to the side”.
“It would be a historic moment if Wilders should succeed in breaking through into the country’s leadership’,” declares Frans Timmermans. According to him, the PVV goes way beyond the former LPF of Pim Fortuyn. The latter found that immigrants had to adapt, while Wilders focuses on assimilation, the PvdA member states. In the latter case, they must abandon much more of their identity.
CDA [Christian Democrats] and VVD [center right], according to Timmermans, should make it clear right now what their position is on cooperation with the PVV. These two parties, in his eyes, are still “enormously foggy” on the issue. There is no question of a cordon sanitaire against the PVV though, Timmermans finds. It is in his eyes not undemocratic using democratic means to prevent certain ideas from gaining influence in a government.
(Resigned) Vice-PM Wouter Bos [PvdA, Socialists] repeated after his meeting with Queen Beatrix that the PvdA after the elections does not want to be part of a government with the PVV. He also said that it would reflect well on the CDA party leader Jan Peter Balkenende if he would also bar out such cooperation.
But Wouter Bos already hinted this ten days ago. “Actually,” Bos said, “there should be an alliance of all parties that state ahead of the elections that they are not to be willing to form a coalition in cooperation with the PVV of Geert Wilders.”
According to Syp Wynia in Elsevier.nl, this is also an attempt to split the CDA, that has both an electorate sympathetic towards Wilders as well as a multicultural left-wing-leaning electorate. The anti-Wilders movement within the CDA has for several years been led by former trade union leader Doekle Terpstra [“Wilders must be stopped”], who is backed by former CDA-leaders like Ruud Lubbers and Elco Brinkman.
Anger at PvdA (Socialists) about cordon sanitaire
The call by the PvdA not to co-operate in a new government with the PVV of Geert Wilders, was not well received. The CDA [Christian Democrats] reject the call, which Wilders considers a cordon sanitaire. Wilders: “The voters will penalize them for this.”
CDA-faction leader Pieter van Geel said: “It is very unwise to exclude each other in advance. That does not fit well in a democracy. We exclude no one. We do not want a cordon sanitaire, which Mr. Bos (PvdA) now seems to be aiming at.”
PVV-leader Geert Wilders considers the appeal by the Social Democrats to be a cordon sanitaire. He calls the plan “an insult to the electorate” and “undemocratic”.
According Geert Wilders, the call by the PvdA further shows “the arrogance of the PvdA [Socialists]. “It is still a big governor’s-clique. The PvdA thinks it is still in power,” Wilders added.
VH notes: The elections for the Dutch parliament will be held Wednesday, June 9, 2010.
And, already in English, from Reuters:
Dutch Parties Tussle Over Approach to Far Right
Labour figure calls on others to keep Wilders out of govt
AMSTERDAM, Feb 23 (Reuters) — A Dutch Labour politician’s call to keep far-right leader Geert Wilders out of a new government has stirred anger among other parties who consider the move undemocratic and likely to drive voters towards him.
Wilders and his Freedom Party have been a focus of debate since the Dutch cabinet collapsed on Saturday, as the election which could be held as early as May will be a key opportunity for the anti-immigration group to increase its influence after a stunning success at European elections last year.
Frans Timmermans, a member of the Labour party and minister for European affairs, said on Monday that Labour would refuse to govern in coalition with Wilders’ party, and he called on other parties to consider a similar approach.
“The Labour party stands for a completely different Holland than the party of Wilders, and for that reason we cannot be in a government with him,” a spokeswoman for the Labour party said.
“He (Timmermans) dared other parties to think the same thing. Do they want to be in a government that segregates people by race and religion?”
Wilders has described the call as an “arrogant” attempt to ringfence his Freedom Party (PVV) and said it was an insult to the democratic system, telling Dutch media “the voter will seek punishment for this”.
Members of other parties have also described the move as undemocratic and warned that it could push voters into the arms of Wilders, considered a maverick among the political elite.
While the socialist SP said it would not consider working in coalition with Wilders’ party due to their policy differences, it criticised Timmermans nonetheless.
“This is unbelievably stupid. What Timmermans is saying is undemocratic, the voter can surely make up their own mind,” said SP leader Agnes Kant in the Dutch daily Trouw. “Wilders can now say there is a barrier being built around him.”
Members of other parties also dismissed the calls, with the head of the Liberal VVD party Mark Rutte telling Dutch radio he was not ruling anyone out as a potential coalition partner and Christian Democrat party chairman Pieter van Geel describing the comments as foolish.
Poised for Gains
Wilders’ party comes first or second in most polls for the next election, and could win up to 24 seats in the 150-seat Dutch Parliament after becoming the second biggest Dutch party in the EU Parliament last year.
So far the CDA and VVD have left the door open to be in a coalition with Wilders. But in recent polls, just 27 percent of respondents said their reaction to a combination of the three in a cabinet would be ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’.
Wilders, who believes that Islam is a violent religion and what he calls the Islamisation of Europe must stop, has consistently challenged the established order with his ferocious debating style, often accusing the government of cowardice.
Hat tip for the Reuters article: KGS.