I’ve been waiting for this story to ripen a bit before publishing anything further. Since it seems to have reached the point where everything will go behind closed doors to be hashed out privately, here’s our update.
In this post, I’m relying on:
- several online and MSM stories that arrived via emails (and would have gone into the Baron’s newsfeed if he were here)
- commenter Yorkshire Miner’s observations, since he voted in this election and knows the political situation well
- and a report by Jerry Gordon at the New English Review.
I’ll start with the last one first: Mr Gordon quotes some snarky Beeb material about Wilders and the PVV, which I won’t repeat since you can guess what they have to say.
I liked his own assessment, at the end:
The comments of BBC analyst Ms. Coughlan aside, the significant votes for Wilders and the Freedom Party (PVV) reflect concern among Dutch voters about the cost of supporting Muslim immigration and the Islamization of the Netherlands.
Given that the winning Liberal Party (VVD) under Rutte is looking into cutting budgetary expenditures, support for limiting immigration should be high up on the priorities for attention in the new ruling government. Thus, we would hazard a guess that Wilders and the Freedom Party (PVV) may be asked to join a conservative ruling coalition government after negotiations are concluded to form a new government for the Netherlands in mid-July.
I hope he’s right. That ‘analyst’ sure didn’t like the idea of Wilders being part of anything, but what can I say? That’s the BBC viewpoint and it never varies. And never apologizes when it turns out to be dead wrong, either. Hmm…just like The New York Times, only more obvious about it.
The Dutch Moroccans aren’t happy with the election results according to a story from the Netherlands national radio (via C. Cantoni):
The Association of Moroccan-Dutch People (SMN) has reacted with dismay to the huge election gains of the anti-Islam Freedom Party. Geert Wilders’ party almost tripled its number of seats in the 150-member Lower House to 24.
The Moroccan group says “it is a smack in the face of Dutch people of Moroccan descent”. The organisation says it received many reactions, expressing pain at the thought that so many people voted for a party which sees no future for Islam in the Netherlands.
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SMN Chairman Farid Azarkan said, “Moroccan-Dutch are now wondering whether their neighbours and colleagues still see them as fellow citizens of this country, and whether there is a safe future here for them and their children.”
But he adds, “We must remember that most people in the Netherlands did not vote for the Freedom Party. That is a sign of hope. A very large majority of the Dutch population wants pluriformity and diversity. That is the Netherlands that we are so familiar with: a country of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and solidarity.”
Ah, yes. A country that is going to hell in a hand basket thanks to the masses of immigrants who fill the jails and form their own societies like the SMN instead of becoming simply Dutch citizens. Keep on segregating yourself, Mr. Azarkan, and watch the PVV grow in size. It went from nine seats to twenty four this time. What kind of “sign” is that, do you think? And how “safe” do ethnic Dutch feel about the future of their children?
Just asking, mind you. This is merely the usual racist questions any Christian nativist would pose to an immigrant who doesn’t put his new country first, leaving his old country behind. One of the reasons I ask these questions is because I can. If I lived in the Netherlands, I’d be up on hate speech charges, wouldn’t I?
As for your group’s “pain at the thought that so many people voted for a party which sees no future for Islam in the Netherlands”, I see that as a sign of progress. There is plenty of room for Islam back in Morocco, Somalia, Turkey, etc. Go home, sir. Or if the Netherlands is your home, then drop the Morocco affiliation. That’s what a citizen of a Western state does. So, is it Islam or the Netherlands? Which polity has your allegiance? Are you capable of making the distinctions necessary to participate in a Western democracy?
Meanwhile, Breitbart had a very thorough report on the elections, far superior to the BBC if you were looking for real content vs. attitude:
The spectacular election breakthrough of the far-right anti-Muslim Party for Freedom shocked the Netherlands on Thursday as two mainstream parties braced for weeks of coalition haggling.
The pro-business Liberal VVD party had 31 seats and the Labour party (PvdA) 30, with 99.6 percent of the vote counted after Wednesday’s election.
But far-right PVV leader Geert Wilders demanded a share of government after his party came third with 24 seats, more than doubling its current nine seats in the 150-member parliament.
“Nobody in The Hague can bypass the PVV anymore,” said Wilders, whose party wants an end to immigration from Muslim countries and a ban on new mosques and the Koran.
“One thing is clear: a group of people are against us. It is terrible,” a 29-year-old Muslim who identified herself only as Aicha told AFP at Oosterwei, an immigrant-majority suburb of the Dutch city of Gouda.
The PVV pushed the Christian Democratic Action party of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende into fourth place, prompting him to resign as party leader and MP after eight years as Dutch premier.
Having been a part of nearly every Dutch government since World War II, the Christian Democrats lost 20 seats to end at 21.
…the Liberal party led by Mark Rutte campaigned with a promise to cut public spending by about 45 billion euros (54 billion dollars) over the next four years.
It also promised to eradicate the public deficit, which was 5.3 percent of GDP last year, to shrink the government and parliament, lower income taxes and cap civil servant pay rises while raising the retirement age by two years to 67.
Labour, led by Amsterdam ex-mayor Job Cohen, had promised more “careful” savings, the retention of social benefits and higher taxes for the rich. It lost two seats.
The election was the first in a eurozone country since the Greek financial crisis erupted and was closely watched to see how the public reacted to Europe’s wave of austerity. Voter turnout was 74 percent, the lowest since 1998.
Rutte has set a target date of July 1 to create a new government. “We do not exclude any party,” he said ahead of the polls, asked about a possible coalition with the far right.
Cohen has ruled out cooperation with the PVV.
The deadlocked result means that the PVV cannot be ruled out of coalition talks which observers say will be long and complicated.
Among the other parties, the Socialist Party got 15 seats, down from 25, the Green GroenLinks and centrist D66 both made gains to get 10 and the Christian Union five, losing one.
Even with my elisions, that is a meaty report. I haven’t seen a better one. But imagine seventy-four per cent of Americans showing up to vote and that being considered a low turnout??
Let me hastily add that I’m not really complaining about my fellow citizens’ voter apathy. I’ve talked to enough of them to know we’re better off this way. Some of them can’t tell you the name of our vice-president. They don’t know their senators or Congressional District representative. Many have absolutely no clue as to who currently occupies the position of Governor of our Commonwealth. Come to think of it, lots of my fellow Virginians don’t even realize we are designated a Commonwealth rather than a state. And they’re fuzzy on just exactly how “Congress” differs from “the Senate”…or is it the same thing?
I saved the best for last: Yorkshire Miner’s personal account of the current political situation in the Netherlands. His assessment is astute:
It has been quite interesting here in Holland. The PVV have got 24 seats which makes it the third largest party in Holland. This is an increase of 15 seats from 9 in the present parliament.
Maurice de Hond, who does all the Gallup polls for the Radio, said that they would get only 18 seats maximum 19. How he could have got it so wrong means only one of two things: either he was manipulating the results, or, as Wilders says, it is “the curtain effect”.
The party [PVV] has been so demonised that people do not tell the polls what they truly feel or how they will vote behind the curtain of the polling booth.
The election has gone very smoothly and there has been none of the accusations of voting fraud as there was in the E.U. elections and local elections earlier.
Here in Limburg, the province where Geert comes from, the victory from the PVV has been almost total; only in a couple of voting areas were they second – Margratten was the only one I can remember. If this had continued the PVV would have been the largest party. I am certain they are well pleased with the result.
The interesting thing is that the Parties that have lost the most have been the CDA (Conservative) from Balkenende and the PS ( Socialist Party) which is to the left of the PvdA ( Social Democrats). To pick up votes from the left and the right show how fluid Dutch Politics is at the moment. [my emphasis – D]
It is possible to form a Coalition of three main parties but they are so far out of sync with each other in their demands that it looks likely that we will end up with a much broader coalition with the PVV in opposition. It is going to be interesting watching the political form of musical chairs over the next few weeks.
It is also going to be interesting to see how Geert handles the party. Up till now it has been basically a one man band, but with 24 seats he is going to have to democratize it and give the members more say.
The result means that the party is now politically acceptable as was shown in the way he was treated by the interviewers during the evening.
I had long suspected that Limburg would vote massively PVV, contrary to the political pundits, from my conversations with my neighbors. My father-in-law, who is a retired Dairy farmer, had a grin from ear to ear while talking to me this morning about the elections, and was well pleased with himself. I suspect that he voted for Geert. This is a man who is a church-going Catholic whose family have farmed the same ground for generations and who has voted CDA for all of his life.
The PVV have done well with the youth and have managed to get about 20% of the youth vote between 18-24. They have certainly got my son’s vote, who cast his vote for the first time yesterday. (How do I know? He told me he was going to weeks ago.)
Paul Weston, another commenter, asks:
Do you think Geert could win overwhelmingly in 4 years’ time?
Yorkshire Miner’s reply:
It is difficult to say, Paul. If you mean could he be the next Prime Minister in 4 years, then the answer is yes.
Dutch Politics is coalition politics; it is virtually impossible to get a majority, you have to win 76 seats out of the 150 in the parliament. The leader of the largest party gets first shot at forming a government so if Geert is the leader of the largest party in 4 years’ time then there is a good chance that he will be the Prime Minister.
I expect that there will be several weeks of bargaining behind locked doors, and I don’t see the PVV getting into the Government. This can go on for months.
Personality and the size of the party do play a role. The CDA, under Lubbers in the late 80s and early 90s, was in a very strong position with (I think) 54 seats. Lubbers was able to push through his agenda without too many problems. When he left to work as Commissioner for Refugees for the United Nations he handed over the reins to Elco Brinkman, who while being a very able politician just didn’t have the charisma. The CDA’s vote crashed from 54 seats to 34 seats.
Balkenende, for all his faults, has blown new life into the party over the last 8 years.
The same can be said for the SP (Socialist Party), which was more a one-man party formed by a chap called Jan Marijnissen. He was a welder from Oss, a small town in Brabant. This party got 25 seats in the 2006 election. When he stepped down its following also went down. They have been the main losers in this election (after the CDA).
Personality does play a very large role in Dutch politics, and when that person leaves the political stage things can change very quickly. When Pim Fortuyn was killed his party destroyed itself in less than two years through the bickering of the minor prima donnas in the party.
I am certain Pim would have been Prime Minister had he lived. He had an instinctive feel for what the Dutch were thinking and feeling and could say things which no other politician would dare to say. I can remember him being accused of being against Moroccans, to which he replied he certainly was not as he had shared his bed with many of them over the years. That would have been political death if it had been said by a British politician or by the majority of the politicians here in Holland.
Geert has something of Pim in his makeup, certainly his honesty. Whether he will be Prime Minister in 4 years time…there are so many factors in play, and as Harold Wilson pointed out, a week is a long time in politics.
I hope that that has helped in answering your question.
Thanks to Yorkshire Miner for this information. I know much more about Dutch politics than I could have learned otherwise.
We are certainly fortunate in our commenters’ wealth of knowledge and their willingness to share it. Yorkshire Miner has long been a valuable source for history. His political lesson here is just icing on the cake.
By the way, here’s the PVV website. Yes, it’s all in Dutch, but there are some good pictures that don’t require language.
For the next few weeks wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall behind those closed doors where they’re duking it out? Of course, I mean a Dutch-speaking fly.