As was reported in tonight’s news feed, the Dutch cabinet has fallen, after Geert Wilders of the PVV declined to support the proposed “austerity” budget. Our Dutch correspondent H. Numan sends his take on these momentous events.
The Fall of the Dutch Cabinet
by H. Numan
As of Saturday the Dutch cabinet has fallen. The official resignation must follow shortly. It is possible, but highly unlikely, that problems will be resolved after all.
As you know, the Dutch government is a minority government. It can only survive in parliament with support of the opposition. That usually is the PVV (Geert Wilders’ party), but not always. On several occasions the government was able to get a majority with support of the left opposition.
For several weeks the coalition partners were negotiating what budget reductions were going to be implemented. As the budget has to be cut in a major way. That is no news. Each partner — VVD (liberals), CDA (Christian Democrats), and the PVV — have their own items they want to be careful about.
The VVD doesn’t want mortgage interest to be taxed. The CDA doesn’t want cuts in development aid. The PVV doesn’t want too many cuts in social security, and certainly does not want to make our pensioners pay for the comfy retirement of Greek pensioners.
This is what caused Wilders to withdraw his support for this cabinet. He did not agree with almost zero cuts to the development budget, nor with letting old age pensioners pay for the party.
As you can imagine, the media are having a ball right now. Their wet dream has come true: the conservative cabinet (first on since 1908!) has collapsed and — joy of joys — Wilders did it.
Just about every newspaper and TV station reports at great length that Wilders and the PVV cannot be trusted. That the PVV is internally heavily divided and Wilders was forced to cut support, otherwise half his parliamentary team would resign on the spot. And more and more.
Personally, I don’t really worry about it. First of all, several left wing media actually support Wilders. The Volkskrant supported his decision in an editorial, for example. Quite unusual to see support coming from that paper, to say the least.
The latest poll shows almost no loss, only one seat. And another poll amongst PVV voters showed serious support for Wilders’ decision to pull the plug.
That doesn’t say much, of course. But it does give some comforting thoughts that Wilders isn’t the unreliable loony as pictured by the other media.
I think Wilders is currently the most professional politician in the Dutch parliament, with a rare long-term view. Suppose he had agreed with the proposed budget cuts. His proposals would have been mostly ignored, while what he opposes strongly (no budget cuts in development aid) would have been implemented. He’d have looked like a fool, and rightly so.
He is very professional not to plug the plug over the development aid cuts. Or better phrased: no cuts. He plugged the plug because old-age pensioners would have been forced to pay for the Sirtaki party in Athens. That gives him quite a bit of support. As I wrote: even from unexpected circles.
We all have to tighten our belts. Of course. Nobody denies that. But I find it somewhat strange to donate money to worthy causes when you can only do that by putting your grandparents on a starvation budget.
All nice and dandy to give money to Somali pirates or dictators in Africa, or to build schools for the Taliban to burn down — if you have money to spend. But to insist on doing that by starving your grandparents is taking charity somewhat too far for me.
Note: The spelling error has been corrected. Thanks, Liquid.