Our Dutch correspondent H. Numan sends an update on the interlocking political scandals in The Netherlands.
A new Dutch cabinet? Don’t hold your breath.
by H. Numan
I’ve reported about the Dutch elections in March. How’s the cabinet formation going? Not quite well. And it won’t, for the foreseeable future. A game changer event happened: Pieter Omtzigt resigned from his party. His resignation makes an extreme left-wing minority cabinet inevitable. A crazy left-wing cabinet, as the biggest party in it will be the “conservative” VVD party. So, what happened?
For many decades Dutch politics were ruled by religious parties. Our first real political party was the ARP or Anti Revolutionary Party. They were staunchly protestant (Calvinist). What revolution they were against? The French revolution! Yeah, I never understood why either. Vive le roi! In those days Dutch society was strongly pillared. Everything was segregated according to religion or political affiliation. I’ve told you that many times. You were born into a (in my case) Catholic family. That means an RC nurse delivered you. Your mum would visit the RC baby-care center. You’d go to an RC kindergarten, primary school, secondary school, get a job in an RC company, date and marry (in that order) an RC girl, if necessary go to an RC hospital, retire to an RC nursing home and eventually be laid to rest in an RC cemetery. You’d listen to the RC radio KRO, and vote for the Catholic KVP party. I experienced the last remnants of that society.
That changed completely in the ‘60s. The pillars disappeared, together with confessionalism. Religion was no longer a focal point in one’s life. Two protestant and one Catholic party realized they would no longer be able dominate politics. From now on, a cabinet without any religious parties was a strong possibility. They decided to merge, and formed the CDA or Christian Democrat Appèl (Appeal). That way they could still rule over Dutch politics for decades, which they did.
Like the proverbial whore of Babylon, they did it with anyone in any way. Usually with the — then — conservative VVD. A progressive cabinet was no problem for the Christian Democrats. We’ll do any trick you want, big daddy! They positioned themselves as the inevitable and unavoidable center party.
It was a smart move, but nonetheless a rearguard action. Because the trend in western Europe is secular, definitely so in Holland. For many Americans probably a rude awakening, or a refreshing shower, depending your point of view. In Dutch politics your sexual preference doesn’t matter. We’ve had plenty of gay politicians. You can be openly gay in America, but you’d never be in the running for president. Likewise, we have plenty of openly atheist politicians. When an American politician admits he is an atheist he just told you he’s not interested in a higher office. Your evolution vs creation politics are for us laughable. Or hilariously ridiculous. No European politician would be crazy enough to admit he’s a creationist. In America he’s taken seriously. In Europe, and particularly in Holland, he’d be the village (or a real) idiot. Religion does play a role, but nowhere near the way it does in America. Home schooling, for example, is not even possible.
Understandably, that had consequences for the Christian Democrat Party. They were — and are — in a sort of limbo. What to do? With the resignation of Pieter Omtzigt, the last shreds of credibility went with him. Everybody knows the CDA is now a wishy-washy party only looking for political power. CDA stands for Christenen Dienen Allah, or Christians serving Allah. Literally, as they accepted many mohammedans in the party and promote them to influential positions. When mosques want to broadcast the adhan over loudspeakers, it’s not only progressive parties that support it. The CDA also does that. Much more so than other parties. Because they want to show they are still a religious party. Yup, including that religion. Corruption scandals are standard in every political party. It’s just that the CDA top seems to think that the C stands for corruption. They eventually lost power in 2010, when premier Balkenende had to resign. He was at that time too religious and far too Calvinistic for the electorate. The CDA went into decline. Right now, that decline is terminal. Nay, they are dead. No resurrection over the weekend. Dead as a dodo.
Now you have a bit of a background, let’s look at Pieter Omtzigt. He was the enfant terrible of the CDA. He’s a rarity: an honest politician. Something the party elite didn’t like. He conducted many investigations that didn’t sit well with the political powers that be. He investigated the MH17 affair. Until it became a political hot potato. The powers that be removed him from the case. He also investigated the childcare benefits affair, which caused the collapse of the present government. The CDA formed part of that government. They weren’t exactly pleased with Mr. Omtzigt’s work.
The CDA leadership elections were rigged twice to prevent Omtzigt becoming chairman. In the first internal elections they made sure Hugo
the Clown de Jonge was elected. When de Jonge’s position quickly became untenable, they arranged for a safe nonentity: Wopke Hoekstra. In both cases a really stupid move based on envy, spite and pure self-interest. Omtzigt could have revived the party. His election would recover much of the lost ground. That’s not me fantasizing, but reality. The election of Wopke Hoekstra immediately cost the party two seats in the following elections. Which they knew well in advance. Also that Omtzigt as party leader would have gained them at least four or more seats.
After the elections, they tried to get rid of Omtzigt one way or another. Perhaps Omtzigt could be kicked upstairs, as a minister? Perhaps he would accept the ministry of silly walks ! The problem was that Omtzigt had no intention at all of being promoted. He wanted to remain what he was: an investigative parliamentarian. I’ve told you about the gaffe of Mrs. Jorritsma, who carried secret documents openly to be photographed by journalists. Not much could be read, only the line ‘position of Mr. Omtzigt’.
All the ruckus about him and his position took its toll on Omtzigt. He had to take sick leave to recover from a nervous breakdown. His colleagues and party superiors gleefully tweeted Pieter was bonkers, going to the funny farm. That sort of stuff. There was only one tiny problem. Omtzigt wasn’t bonkers and he didn’t go to the funny farm. He was very busy. Writing a 60-page report about corruption inside his CDA party.
That report was for internal use only, but the CDA top leaked it to the press. They hoped to get rid of him that way. That sort of worked. When the CDA top claimed it was Omtzigt who leaked it, he resigned immediately. He’s now an independent member of parliament on sick-leave.
That news hit the country like a bombshell. At this moment the CDA is polling at … SIX seats. Yes, you read that right. Six seats is all they have (virtually) left. The photo at the top of this post was tweeted gleefully by Geert Wilders. With the words: “a party outing of the CDA parliamentary faction”. The CDA at its height held 48 seats. How the mighty can fall!
We have no shortage of political parties, who picked up the (virtual) shards. It’s not impossible that the CDA might recover, but that would require a true miracle. Either by a man who walked on water or flew on a horse to Jerusalem. Whatever you prefer. The CDA was the party for farmers, and had a large following among rural voters. A new party, BBB BoerBurgerBeweging or Farmer Citizen movement currently holds only one seat, but picked up no less than six of the now virtual seats lost by the CDA.
The ‘conservative’ party VVD and slightly more left leaning D66 haven’t lost or gained from Omtzigt’s resignation. However, they have their own problems. The VVD used to be the conservative party. They moved steadily to the left. Premier Rutte is well past his due date. The only reason he’s still there is because he hasn’t got a successor. Basically the VVD took the position of whore of Babylon over from the CDA. They occupy firmly the coveted center position. That doesn’t mean they are well loved, or even credible. Far from it! The VVD is still big for the want of anything better.
D66 is a progressive split-off of the VVD. A kind of up-and-down party. One election they are big, the next they almost disappear. They did have party principles, but every principle they once held they exchanged for power. The previous chairman Rob Jetten was a nonentity and is openly gay. For that reason he was elected chairman. He has been replaced by Sigrid Kaag. Or should I say Sigrid al Qaq? She is married to Anis al-Qaq, who is a top PLO officer.
Mrs. Al Qaq is virulently antisemitic and wants above anything to become the first women prime minister of The Netherlands. Apart from being the biggest donor of the PLO and Hamas, her gender is her only qualification. Her husband is firmly kept out of the picture. So is her religion. Do tell me, how likely is it that Mrs. Al Qaq is a Christian or an atheist? Given the fact that she is married to a ranking PLO officer, I would say: zero chance. I’m pretty certain she is mohammedan. Not openly, mind you. That would completely destroy her chances of becoming premier.
Currently D66 is doing well, 24 seats. By now that is a pretty big party. It used to be: ‘better than average’. That’s how deep we have sunk. First the PvdA was axed. Why? Because they were no longer credible. They dropped the working man in favor of mohammedans and better-educated (Dutch) voters. Their chairman pretended to be a working-class man, by wearing over the top worn out sweaters and not shaving. Desperately pretending to be working class. It didn’t work. They are still in recovery.
The CDA still holds 18 seats, but that doesn’t say much. They will sink to six or less in the next election. That means they are out of the race for the coming cabinet. No sane party will want to rule together with a party that is already dead. The death certificate only needs to be confirmed by the next election.
That means automatically a left wing minority cabinet. That is, if Rutte is able to convince his party cadre to commit suicide. The VVD used to be the right-wing conservative party. Rutte wasn’t the chap that moved it strongly to the left, but he did finish that process. If he agrees to a progressive minority cabinet, the credibility of the VVD is lost irretrievably. Never mind his own credibility; he doesn’t have too much of that left, anyway.
Moving toward the political center is one thing. The old ‘anticommunist party’ agreeing to chair a minority cabinet with only left wing parties in it is another. In this cabinet the VVD would be the biggest partner, followed by (left wing) D66. The VVD would lose out most of the time if D66 decides to follow the progressive factions — which they will. It would mean the biggest partner is actually the minority. That’s something Rutte can’t brush aside. He may want to do that; his goal is to become the first prime minister who has served four times. I doubt very much if his party shares that sentiment. If they do, they will become mincemeat in the next elections. Like the CDA willingly has done.
What about a conservative cabinet? Not possible. The PVV is not big enough (17 seats). Other parties have split repeatedly (FvD) or are too new (BBB, Ja21). Too many conservative parties with not enough credibility.
As the Chinese curse goes: “may you live in interesting times”. In Holland, we sure do!
— H. Numan
Key to Dutch parties:
|FvD||Forum for Democracy|
|Forum voor Democratie|
|Conservative, populist, Euroskeptic
|VVD||People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy|
|Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie|
|Partij van de Arbeid|
|PVV||Party for Freedom|
|Partij voor de Vrijheid|
|Classical liberal, Islam-critical
|Left-wing populists, former Maoists, to the left of communists
|CDA||Christian Democratic Appeal|
|Christian democrats, center-right
|Politieke Partij Democraten 66|
|Centrist social liberals
|Christian Democrats, left-wing, only “conservative” in being ostensibly religious
|Environmentalism plus hard left
|SGP||Reformed Political Party|
|Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij|
|Christian right, advocates a Christian theocracy
|PvdD||Party for Animals|
|Partij voor de Dieren|
|For The Netherlands|
|Classical liberal party
|PPNL||Pirate Party of the Netherlands|
|Anti-copyright, transparent governance
|JA21||Right Answer 21|
|Juiste Antwoord 21|