The Netherlands has been without a government for the last three months, ever since the general election which added fifteen seats to the Party for Freedom’s parliamentary presence. The vote also catapulted Geert Wilders to the position of kingmaker among the various establishment parties that have up until now continuously and publicly reviled him.
Three months without a government is a long time, but other countries in the same situation have gone on even longer. Iraq, for example, is still without a government seven months after a parliamentary election. And it seems like forever since Belgium had anything more than a caretaker government — I can’t even remember the last real government in Brussels (not counting the EU, of course).
And this current VVD/CDU coalition may not pan out — we have, after all, had previous false alarms. But if the left wing of the CDU doesn’t bolt again, this one may actually happen. Here’s the news from Reuters:
Dutch Agree Coalition With Anti-Islam Party Support
AMSTERDAM, Sept 28 (Reuters) — Two Dutch parties agreed on Tuesday to form a coalition, with support from a far-right party [the PVV] whose leader [Geert Wilders] is on trial for inciting hatred against Muslims, and its main task will be to implement austerity measures.
Notice that the PVV — which in an American context would be slightly to the left of, say, John Kerry on everything but immigration and Islam — is labeled “far-right”. Anybody who opposes Islamization, no matter how socialist he might be on other issues, is always called a “right-wing extremist”. If he happens also to use a phrase like “Dutch identity”, “Flemish rights”, “Swedish values”, or “the ancient liberties of Englishmen”, he is automatically promoted to the rank of “neo-fascist” or “crypto-Nazi”.
The parliamentary leaders of the VVD Liberal Party and CDA Christian Democrats reached agreement to form a minority government, the first in the Netherlands since 1939, with support in parliament from the anti-Islam PVV Freedom Party.
“We have just put the finishing touches on the agreements that will give form to our political co-operation,” VVD leader Mark Rutte said on Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
“I’m so happy that we have come so far.”
The VVD won most votes in the June elections on an austerity platform that found wide acceptance among voters worried about an anaemic economy, a major pension problem and reverberations from the debt crisis in Greece.
Not mentioned is the fact that the VVD and the CDU would not fare so well if elections were held again today, according to the latest polls. The two “center-right” parties are well-advised to grab their chance while they can, because if another election has to be called, Geert Wilders will probably be dealt an even stronger hand.
But efforts to create a majority cabinet stumbled on differences over spending policy, and markets will be closely watching for hints on how fast the new government plans to press ahead with spending cuts.
Rutte said two agreements reached on Tuesday will be presented to party colleagues on Wednesday, one outlining the government pact and the other outlining the minority support.
The VVD and the CDA plan to govern with support in parliament from the PVV, which has called Islam a backwards religion and said the ‘islamisation’ of the Netherlands needs to be stopped.
Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders said the coalition deal would prove “fantastic” for the Netherlands.
“There will be a historic policy, which will be very different on various matters,” he said.
If Mr. Wilders is enthusiastic about this new government, chances are that we’ll be in for some interesting times in the next few months.
Keep your eye on the Netherlands.
Hat tip: DF.