In general elections many month ago, the two political parties in power lost heavily. The conservatives lost 25% and the socialist a whopping 75% of their seats in parliament. This was what the electorate thought of the now outgoing Government. That had spent all its energy on “being responsible,” which means saving the economy in times of crisis, which actually means getting more money from the citizens and as little as possible from the rich, as the latter “are needed to restore the economy.”
Most socialist voters apparently did not think that this was the responsible thing to do and “punished” them on election day. Voters who had been tricked into believing that the conservatives are actually reasonable people seem also to have woken up to reality, taking their votes elsewhere. Of course the rich never doubted the value of the biggest party and those conservative voters stayed put.
One would think that these two parties with big losses would have retracted themselves into small corners to humbly lick their wounds and accept the verdict of the Dutch voters. Well, the socialist actually did that. However, the conservatives were not really defeated. They had big interests to defend, now the economy was doing much better and battered Dutch society needed to be rebuilt. Again, they recognized the “responsible” thing to do, to form a new coalition to “serve” the country (they mean the narrow interests of the wealthy) again. But how could they sell that, given their enormous loss at the polls? Not so difficult.
Firstly, opinion polls had predicted a neck-and-neck race between the conservatives and the ultra-right. Exit polls already showed that there never had been such a thing. The conservatives secured a big lead over the extremists. No party in parliament wanted to sit in government with the ultra-right, for several reasons. It’s not a real party (Wilders is its only member), and it can’t stop electioneering and speaking in demagogic untruths, and previously negotiating with the person of Wilders had proven to be a waste of time since he gains more votes by complaining and accusing than by taking responsibility.
So, the second-largest party was excluded from the coalition. It would be “unthinkable” to also exclude the largest party, no? True, they lost 10 seats, but they’re still the largest.
Much more reasonable would have been to seek a coalition between the Center, Left and Christian parties. Some of them had won big-time. So how did the conservatives block this? By claiming that the coalition should form a majority and not consist of more than four parties “to keep it workable.” Of course, this is as arbitrary as it gets. What’s wrong with an alliance of more parties? Works fine in Israel. The conservative mantra, adopted by almost all other parties, has been: four at most. Again, the Left is kept out of government.
Now, you might think that the Netherlands is a very liberal, free, left-leaning nation. Nation, yes, but government no. The socialists in the now outgoing government might have been the closest to power that they have been in decades. But the Left is heavily divided – and the Right not, because much money is at stake, and then you stay united.
If some of these successful Left-wing parties would unite, they could easily become the largest and dictate what Dutch society should look like. Not in the years to come, it seems.
Dutch society is quite social but that is the wish of the Right too. How so? It understood that if you rob the working class and the underclass from all you can, you’ll get social unrest, and that costs money. It is actually cheaper to give the unemployed and other social weak some funds. It will keep them quiet, less defeatist, and this money they spent immediately (too poor to save), helping the economy.
Similarly, it has figured out – different from US President Trump – that it’s no use to “save jobs” by ignoring climate change goals. Actually, going for zero greenhouse gasses will boost the economy with innovations, making the Dutch come out ahead of the pack – together with Israel. Automation is also no problem. The art is to create and educate for jobs that can’t be done by machines soon.
Negotiations for a new government in the Netherlands could drag on many more days, weeks or months, but without a miracle, the Right will stay in power – again. It’s a small but rich country, with a polite blooming democracy, and with many poor people nevertheless.
I don’t know if the Left, Center and Christian parties rather dance with the Right, if they are too establishment to go for Center-Left, or if they are actually fooled and their thinking is boxed in by the conservative narrative.