Our Dutch correspondent H. Numan sends this account of the latest political crisis in the Netherlands:
Both the Dutch secretary and the undersecretary for Justice resigned
The minister of Justice, Ivo Opstelten, and his junior minister Fred Teeven offered their resignation to the king. They were forced to resign due to a political scandal. One of many surrounding this dynamic duo. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a deal that Fred Teeven made with a criminal when he (Teeven) was district attorney. According to Mr. Teeven, he paid 1.5 million guilders to the criminal Cees H. According other sources it was quite a bit more: 4.5 million. Until last week no receipts were found.
However, this week civil servants working for the Justice Department did find those receipts. As the minister fully defended his junior, both lied to parliament in a major way. So the minister had no other option than to offer his resignation. Therefore, his number two had to resign as well. Both are being replaced by the relative nonentity Stef Blok, currently secretary of housing. He’s managing both departments right now.
What exactly happened is not really important to GoV readers, but their resignation certainly is. Because the consequences will be pretty big.
Currently we have a coalition cabinet between the VVD (conservatives) and the PvdA (socialists). That coalition is on its very last legs. It wasn’t a match made in heaven to begin with, but right now both parties are in real trouble. A cabinet of conservatives together with socialists can work, but usually it doesn’t. Though the VVD won the elections, during the first year of the cabinet the PvdA called the tune. That didn’t sit very well with the conservative electorate. The VVD tumbled from 40 seats at the last election to half that number now.
During the second year of the cabinet the tables were reversed. The PvdA was raked by scandals and needed all the support they could get. Which the VVD was kind enough to give. Of course for a political price. That didn’t sit very well with the progressive electorate. The PvdA tumbled from 35 seats at the last election to 9 seats, though both parties are slowly recovering.
Now, next week we have elections. Nothing fancy, the coming elections are about the most boring and utterly insignificant we have. We are to elect new provincial governments. What a provincial government actually does is a bit of a mystery. Because real important decisions are taken by either the national government or the municipalities. Not by the provinces. Most people see this as a kind of ‘inactive position’ for misbehaving politicians, or a kind of training ground for aspiring ones.
But this time it’s very different. The senate is due for elections. Now, electing senators is something so difficult and complicated ordinary citizens are deemed to stupid for it. Only the provincial representatives can do that. Stepped elections, in other words.
Currently the government does have a majority in parliament, but not in the senate. That’s a real handicap, because several pieces of legislation have already been shot down by a not-so-friendly senate. Both the socialists and the conservatives are going to lose those elections in a major way. The question is not whether they are going to lose this election, but by how much. After the election the government will have to deal with a senate that really hostile to it.
As the election will be held on the 18th of March, this sudden resignation is something the conservatives could do very well without. The fact that both are top level conservative politicians, and have been replaced by only one relative nonentity is also significant. It shows the conservatives are either running out of scandal-free top level politicians, or saving them for later.
I think this cabinet is already dead, but doesn’t want to admit it as yet. However, with this resignation and almost certainly a disastrous defeat next week, the cabinet doesn’t have much of a chance to survive until summer. It’s not impossible the cabinet will limp along, hoping for a miracle. But it’s far more likely the opposition will pull the plug and force it to resign.
Now, that’s not good news. Yes, this cabinet is not exactly one the best we had. But it can (and will!) be a lot worse… The Christian party CDA is recovering from their losses in previous elections and D66 is doing pretty well. Both want to cash in on that. Oops, to govern, I mean. Especially the leader of D66, Alexander Pechtold, feels himself absolutely certain to be the next prime minister.
The CDA party is a somewhat center-left party for somewhat religious people. Any religion will do. The Dutch nickname this party often “Christenen Dienen Allah” or “Christians serving Allah”, as they warmly welcome any religion. Especially the religion of peace. The party is as politically correct as can be, and supports the EU up to the hilt. Mr. van Haersma-Buma feels quite certain this country needs more religion and a new prime minister.
D66 is a split off of the conservative VVD. They split in 1966, and were sort of democratic mavericks then. Hence the name. The party doesn’t really have a program of its own. More like ‘what works best in the coming elections is what we stand for.’ Also, this is a bit of an up and down party. One year they’re up and one of the biggest parties, next year they are down and debate if they should close down the party altogether. Right now they are on the up track.
The current issues D66 is fighting for: destroy Wilders and the PVV. That is number one on their agenda. They will always vote opposite of Wilders and the PVV. Next item is to be as politically correct as possible. A subject can be utterly crazy or insane, but if it’s politically correct D66 will support it. Third item is the EU. Some parties like the EU, others dislike it. But D66 is the most pro-EU party in the country. Or the entire EU, for that matter. D66 doesn’t feel they should represent their country. They feel they represent the EU. A the party is very much in love with the religion of peace; it’s often nicked the 66 Dhimmis. Read any ridiculous Dutch court ruling recently? You can be sure the judge or the DA is a card carrying-member of D66. The two kangaroo courts trying to convict Wilders were … yep. All judges were D66 party members.
I didn’t mention the PVV. That’s because most other parties either actively boycott them, or try avoiding dealing with them. The PVV is earmarked to become the winner of the elections, currently they’re polling consistently as the biggest party. Doesn’t matter, because none wants to cooperate with them. Currently all parties are very busy looking the other way when PVV politicians get harassed by left wing radicals. It’s so nice when somebody else is doing your dirty work, isn’t?
Now, add all of the above together. That’s why I’m not too keen on elections. This cabinet is not exactly the best we ever had, but it can be a lot worse. And it’s almost certain it will be.
Articles on the crisis (in Dutch):
Just do an internet search on “Ivo Opstelten” and/or “Fred Teeven”, and you’ll find