A guide for people from a country with a two-party system
This year, it’s 60 years that I follow Dutch politics closely, though I did so a little less intense when I raised my children, but I’m back for years already.
Wednesday, the Dutch had national elections. Out of a population of 13M, 77.7% went to the ballot box, getting a choice between 25 parties. The record (so far) was in 2021: 37 parties participated. This year’s size of the unfolded ballot was 83.8 by 59.3 (33 x 23 inch) printed double-sided.
They have no problem with a 1-person party representation. It could be a voice that shouldn’t be missed: Dutch tolerance. Parties with one seat, at the next elections, could get 10 or 25 seats. Each party presents a list of candidates. If a candidate receives very many votes, s/he jumps the list.
What Wikipedia can’t do, I’ll be blunt and not tire you with anyone’s spin.
As I blogged, Geert Wilders, the big winner, is a Jew for Jewish Law (via his mother’s Indonesian mother), what explains his peroxided thick black hair. A Jew has a right to be in the closet, but not when racism is his platform.
Background of These Elections
Important to know is that the four administrations led by Mark Rutte had left the rich, small, ex-imperialistic county in ruin, except for the very rich:
- Four types of migrants in numbers the country could not carry.
Foreign students force many universities to teach in English, receive subsidized and excellent schooling, and then leave.
2. Many workplaces are unable to find workers (record-low unemployment numbers). Then, migrant workers take up the jobs. Yet, often they’re scandalously poorly paid and housed, living without privacy, intimacy, family, or neighborhood integration, causing local crime rates and disturbing the locals to skyrocket.
3. Emergency refugees from the Ukraine, and 4. Other political and economic refugees, the former entitled, the latter not. The last two types cannot be refused, but they come in impossible numbers.
- The discovery of racist tax officers systematically hurting the ‘new’ allochthon (from the ’60s) by the thousands, giving them a secret criminal record, making them homeless, having their kids taken away, and more. Once the government heard this, they hid it for two years. It resigned when the scandal burst, but the subsequent administrations talked a lot and did little to turn the tide. This was but one case of the State acting as an enemy of the citizens.
- A housing crisis made that many people in their twenties still are forced to live with their parents and can’t start a family. Also, willing students and workers could not start since they found no housing.
- Gas explorations in Groningen had made the country that lost most of its colonies extra rich again. However, a decade ago, serious earthquakes started destroying houses in the North, and again, the citizens found the authorities to be their enemies, unwilling to pay for repairs or compensations and unwilling to stop the exploitations.
- The strong climate lobby started a war of survival with farmers and fishers. Lately, farmers began to fight back, receiving broad support. Aid for ‘climate change’ went to the rich and hardly the population.
- Thirty years ago, the Netherlands had dismantled its old-age homes because home care would be cheaper. Yet, budget cuts left care way below the humane minimum. The whole healthcare was collapsing.
- Minimum wage levels and subsidies were OK, but the cost of living rose so much many lived in poverty and hunger in this rich country. Natural gas prices went through the roof because of Putin and privatization. Almost 1M people, including the working poor, were living in poverty, and half of them depended on Red Cross food handouts. Millions live from paycheck to paycheck without any reserve. Many must choose between heating, medicine, and food.
- Austerity policies have cut down on physicians, hospitals, police, sports accommodations, orchestras, public transportation, etc., but far less so, if at all, in the big cities where most politicians live.
- It turned out that, when the government and/or parliament would do or want anything against the constitution, no appeal anywhere was possible. There’s no court to reject laws, bills, or policies, like Corona measures, pensions overhaul, threatening farmers. The government even executed policies behind the parliament’s back!
What a mess, no? And I’m not exaggerating! Rutte called the country ‘cool’ to deny the calamities. But there are plenty of great things about the Low Countries: The language (Dutch has the world’s largest dictionary) with hundreds of dialects (nowadays also spoken in the halls of power), but the Dutch are also good at other languages, the people’s mentality (work responsibly but not too long, be tolerant and humble) and awareness (environment, decolonization, oppression, promoting Frisian culture and language), its equality (the first country to allow gay marriage), its cuisine with recipes from around the world but also typically Dutch food and snacks, excellent organizers, the bike culture, centuries of unparalleled art (Rembrandt, Wim Kan, het Concertgebouw), good at winning Noble Prizes, sports competitions, and world records, and of course the waterworks.
You’d think almost everyone would be most motivated if not furious to vote. No registration is needed in the Netherlands. You show your voting pass (the population register sends it to you automatically or you request one if you lost it if you’re 18) and identification, show up, and vote. Yet, 22% stayed home, probably disillusioned. Still, this is not a bad turnout.
A whopping four parties were vying to become the largest. Traditionally, the winner delivers the PM. We were in for surprises.
For much of the campaign, 60% of the voters were not set on one party to vote for. On election day, there were still a whopping 30% floating voters.
In hindsight, it seems the final election results were greatly determined by the last week of television debates. Some (like Wilders) won seats with every sentence they spoke. Rutte was so shrewd to ‘retire’ from politics, hoping a new face could save his party. After a good show, she suddenly lacked replies to left-wing attacks (showing her anti-social, sponsor-the-rich, hidden agenda). Then she misspoke that she would serve over but not under Wilders. Wilders, in contrast, said he was ready to moderate his anti-Islam stance. This likely prompted many of her voters to shift to him.
This national election proved not possible to forecast since most large political parties were either new or had new leadership, most people doubted what to vote until close to election day, and in the last couple of days, a third of all voters considered or decided to vote strategically. The race was not tightly contested but just impossible to predict.
Several apt commentators suggested Wilders’ sudden stark rise also was in reaction to the scary “From the river to the sea” Chamas demonstrations that shocked many regular Dutch people. Especially after they heard what that did with the Dutch Jews. This included a Dutch-Moroccan MP saying the infamous slogan at parliament. All the other members spoke of their shock and revulsion, invoking how Jews feel about this, and banned this hate speech from their sessions forever. Not surprisingly, shortly after Wilders’ win, Dutch Jews tweeted: Chamas lost the elections.
Without exception, the four parties that formed the outgoing coalition were crushed at the polls. From their 34+24+15+5=78 seats out of 150 in total, they lost 11+14+10+2=37 seats, a loss of 47%, almost half.
The winners were as obvious as the losers. Wilders: from 17+20!=37. Timmermans (Green+Labor) went 17+8=25, now second in size, but a win far smaller than Wilders’. Omtzigt (for a better constitution) went from 1+19!=20. And Van der Plas (farmers+) went from 1+6!=7.
Ten parties didn’t get enough votes for at least 1 seat. Many of the tiny fractions already in Parliament lost most or all of their seats due to ‘strategic voting,’ which was suddenly promoted in the last week. That meant: don’t vote for your favorite but for one of the big four, closest to you, to get the PM of your choice. In the previous elections, 8 parties acquired 5 or fewer seats, in total 22 seats. In the new Parliament, we see 9 parties with 28 seats and the other 6 with all the other 122 seats.
Of the four front-running parties, Omtzigt preferred not to be PM because he’s best in parliament. The other three counted on coming out first. The left-wing Timmermans ended his European career for it. The successor of Rutte would become the first female Dutch PM. And Wilders was ready, after decades as leader of the opposition, broadly boycotted because of his anti-Islam stance, to conclude his career as PM, so he turned mild.
What will Happen Next?
Before election day, parties need to highlight their differences; after the day, they must look for similarities to form a 3-, 4-, or 5-party coalition.
The two bigger left-wing parties (25+9) immediately declared Wilders unfit to join as his party ‘is racist.’ This despite Wilder’s immediate declaration to be everyone’s PM and assurance we won’t discriminate, as ordered by law and the constitution. (He didn’t say EU Law since he’s pro-Nexit, but his new coalition partner Omtzigt, a European specialist, will teach him to stay and sometimes not comply.) I think their ‘disgust’ was a trick to hide their justified shock at their disappointing election results. They’d be unfit to join a Wilders-Omtzigt coalition since the latter is completely honest.
I predict a right-wing minority coalition (37+20+7=64) with a minimalistic coalition agreement, just like Omtzigt wants. That will give shifting parliamentarian majorities possibilities to have their wishes fulfilled.
The PM could be Wilders or a professional rather than a politician (judge, professor). The government will tell the EU certain things must be done differently, or the Netherlands won’t see itself bound to those points.
For now, the sore losers on the left are creating some animosity. Play-acting empathy and standing with minorities, they actually agitate them.
People fearful or hopeful the Netherlands will now become a far-right nation will soon find out they were dead wrong. Decency, fairness, and friendliness will reenter society and politics. The biggest changes ever.
The Netherlands will start building again, refurbish its constitution, become safe for Jews and everyone, and end its hunger and poverty.
Internationally, not much will change. Most restauration will be at home.
To undo mismanagement of many years will take a decade. This coalition will need to set out toward winning the next elections too, in four years.
The amount of nonsense told by foreign news agencies is unbelievable. Here a researcher who got it right. However, his report is from two months ago and the whole political landscape since has changed dramatically.
One more thing: His name, Geert Wilders, is pronounced as follows:
Geert [ˈɣeːrt]: G as the CH in Channukah, Chamas, Loch Ness, and Bach, and not as in Good. The ee almost as the vowel in Bin but longer.
Wilders [ˈʋɪldərs]: The W close to the V in Vodka. The i as the i in Bin, not as in I. The e is as the e in Tickets.