It turns out that the débacle in Afghanistan has caused casualties in the interim Dutch cabinet. Our Dutch correspondent H. Numan has the report.
A new cabinet? Not bloody likely.
by H. Numan
At the beginning of March the Dutch went to vote. That’s a cool six months ago. A new cabinet coming soon? No, that will take a while. A very long while. Yesterday the Dutch vice-premier and minister for foreign affairs, Sigrid Al Qaq, was forced to resign. Again, as the current cabinet is demissionary. It had already resigned. She was the first Dutch victim of the US surrender in Afghanistan.
Both the (demissionary) ministers of defense, Ank Bijleveld, and for foreign affairs, Sigrid Al Qaq, had to explain themselves in parliament about Afghanistan. Before the surrender parliament had asked both to take measures for proper evacuation, which they hadn’t followed up. Parliament didn’t like the answers, and approved a motion of censure. Ank Bijleveld refused to resign, but Sigrid Al Qaq did. A motion of censure is not a motion of no confidence. In the first case, a minister can resign. In the second case, a minister must resign. It took a while to get some sense into Mrs. Bijleveld, but after 24 hours she finally resigned as well.
That makes the already very difficult cabinet negotiations next to impossible. Why? The voters voted for the impossible. Let’s have a quick look at the results: the VVD won (= didn’t loose a lot) with 34 seats. Runner-up was D66, with Sigrid Kaag — Al Qaq, they got 24 seats. Next was the PVV with 17 seats. Those are the big parties. CDA (Christian democrats) lost massively; they have 15 seats left over.
On the right side of the ballot a lot of new parties gained and lost seats. But none of them got over 7 seats. On the left side everybody lost. Some not so much, others a lot.
The powers-that-be don’t want a conservative government. In real life, that’s impossible anyway. To form a truly conservative cabinet you need no less that seven parties. That has never happened. The largest Dutch coalition had five parties, and collapsed within a couple of months.
The most logical solution would be a continuation of the present coalition, as it could be a workable cabinet. However… before the elections began, the Christian Union (Communist Calvinists) explicitly ruled out working together with D66. Sigrid Al Qaq retaliated likewise. So that option is a clear no-no.
The next option was a progressive cabinet. That might work, too. However, the lame (PvdA, our Labour party) firmly hold hands with the blind (GreenLeft, the communist party). They want to rule together or not at all. That demand is completely unacceptable for the VVD, for a very obvious reason. In such a cabinet they would become the minority party. Such a cabinet would effectively be a communist cabinet, with the VVD as a convenient scapegoat.
That leaves only two options: a minority cabinet or new elections. Calling for new elections has never happened. But it seems painfully clear this option is the only workable one. Why? Because the results of the elections are already old hat!
Since March a lot has happened. The Christian Democrats (CDA) committed suicide by ousting their enfant terrible, Pieter Omtzigt. They have 15 seats at the moment, but are polling at 9. Right now, that is. Because they are in the political elevator going down. Fast. I have no idea why they committed suicide. With Omtzigt as leader, they would have won the elections. Possibly enough to have him as the new prime minister. They would at least have recovered from their downward track. I wrote about this just after the elections.
However, they kicked him out. Or rather, they forced him out. He wasn’t ousted from the party, but they made him resign. Which he duly did. Now he’s running as an independent. We don’t know what he will do. If he sets up his own party, which is almost certain, that party is already polling at 20-26 seats. At least six of those seats will come from the CDA.