Our Dutch correspondent H. Numan reports on the latest labyrinthine twists and turns on the political scene since the recent parliamentary elections in The Netherlands.
by H. Numan
The continuing saga of the Dutch electoral farce: I reported about the elections, and later the gaffe made by the prime minister. It’s becoming a real Easter parody now: the PM had to explain himself before the Sanhedrin (Parliament) on White Thursday. He was crucified on Good Friday, but: verily, the Lord has risen! He survived a motion of no confidence by the skin of his teeth. He was saved by his coalition partner CU (Christian Union; Calvinist Marxists) who didn’t support the motion.
I’m not too fond of the CU, to put it mildly. For three reasons: I don’t like hypocrites, very strict Calvinists and I don’t like Marxists. Gert Jan Seegers is all of that. That makes him a pharisee par excellence in my book. A pharisee is someone who goes through the motions, without any real conviction. Others must see how devout or dedicated he or she is. Progressives excel here. Others must abide by rules they don’t abide themselves. Woe betide you if you don’t!
Well, Gert Jan Seegers (leader of the CU) voted to support the PM, but after the motion was passed, he said he doesn’t want govern with the VVD again. Good boy, that’s my hypocrite! If you feel that way, you should have supported the motion.
It’s difficult to say what is going to happen now, but it will make a new cabinet a LOT more difficult. I told you Dutch PMs usually don’t last more than 12 years. We don’t have a limit. A US president can be elected twice, on very rare occasions three times. A Dutch PM can be elected as often as he wants. However, about three terms seems to be the practical limit. No PM has ever served four terms.
Right now, Mark Rutte has a problem. He did survive the motion of no confidence, but not as the victor. His position is now seriously damaged. How much? A poll showed the electorate of all parties (except for VVD voters, of course) don’t want him to be the next prime minister. The percentages vary from 45 to 85%. Ouch. That hurts!
The problem dear leaders have is that they usually don’t have a spare on hand. Dear leaders don’t want to share their love of the people with anyone. Dear Mark is no exception. He did have a few successors, but had to toss them out for political reasons. For example, Halbe Zijlstra bragged he met Putin in his dacha. Pretty soon it was discovered he wasn’t even in Russia at the time. He was unceremoniously dumped and is working for a construction company now.
Long before that, Rutte eliminated all opposition within his party. The party does what Dear Mark wants. If you don’t, out you go. The last one to try was Rita Verdonk. She lost the internal elections for party leadership to Mark. Then she resigned from the party, and set up her own party TON. TON stands for Trots Op Nederland, or Proud About the Netherlands. Ton also means barrel. This proved to be a empty one. It got nowhere. The party quickly collapsed and doesn’t exist anymore.
Where Mark represents the most progressive wing within the VVD, Rita represented the conservative wing. When she resigned, many conservatives moved with her. The remaining conservatives got the message: be quiet. Be very very quiet!