Thursday, November 23, 2006

Take me to the edge

Geert... eet een ijsje
Originally uploaded by jacco de boer.
The people of the Netherlands have spoken yesterday. The results are in the direction of the expectations but the scale is much more radical.

The governing party CDA (Christian Democrats) still keeps the number one position but the big winner of the elections is the Socialist Party (SP) which gained 17 new seats and made its way to be the 3rd biggest party of the Netherlands. The success of the Socialists hit hardest the Social Democrats (PvdA).

The other big winner is the far-right and anti-Europe Freedom Party (leader Geert Wilders in the picture) which fights against the "islamisation" of the Netherlands. Wilders and his colleagues rose from zero to nine seats. Most of the support shifted from List Pim Fortuyn, the radical politician killed just before the last elections.

Also the Christian Union came out as a winner. All the big parties (excl. SP) lost seats.

It is difficult to say what one should make of this. The far left, the far right and the christians win and all the moderates and liberals lose. The talk of the day has been the difficulties in forming a cabinet as neither the right, the left nor the grand coalition reaches a majority. The pessimist view is that the country is completely stuck.

An optimistic interpretation of the situation is that there were radical shifts in power. This could be seen as proof for the voters that in the end they still are the ones who make the call. Voting matters. The voters decided not to buy the setting laid out by CDA and PvdA of the elections as a battle of the giants.

An obscure detail is the new party entering the Parliament, The Party for the Animals. Left-leaning group did their campaign mostly on animal rights and organic food. Part of their success is due to the support from the best-selling Dutch author, Harry Mulisch.

After living two years in this country this does not surprise me that much. The Netherlands and its people seem to believe in experimenting, saying things in the open even if someone is offended and harsh debate. The good thing is that the concensus tradition of the last centuries often smooths things a bit in the end. But we just have to wait and see.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The frightening thing is that Holland is becoming very conservative. The success of christian union and the socialist party can be seen as a protest to that image of extreme tolerance the country previously has had, don't you think?

Both of the winning parties are near to extremes, as is the third winner, Wilders's "party for freedom", too.

The Dutch people seem to be tired of talking, tired to act according to the polder-model. Now they want some action. Hopefully the action-to-come is not going to be violent.