Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

The drama continues

Australian Labor is intending to govern with the support of a few independent MPs, Belgium is on the brink of disintegrating and meanwhile the soap opera that is called ‘negotiating a new Dutch government’ is continuing to surprise us all…

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A few weeks ago when I reported on the results of the Dutch elections, I speculated that a Liberal-Labour-Green coalition (or purple plus) was a serious option. This is now a distant memory. The coalition talks failed miserably. The (rightwing) Liberals were simply not ready for it.

So, take Labour (PvdA) out of the equation and maverick rightwing Geert Wilders is back on the scene. Weeks of careful negotiations followed to form a Liberal (VVD) Christian Democrat (CDA) minority government, supported by Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV). But the talks collapsed last week when one of the Christian Democrat negotiators, MP Ad Kink, reported back to his party basically saying Wilders couldn’t be trusted. Needless to say, Wilders was not amused. He now demands the opposition within the Christian Democrats be silent and get back in line. It looks like he might get his way now the rebellious negotiator has announced that he is leaving parliament and the two remaining rebels are being put under immense pressure.

In the meantime Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has appointed Tjeenk Willink (vice-president of the Council of State also referred as the ‘vice-roi’ of the Netherlands) as the new ‘informateur’, the mediator who oversees the initial part of the coalition-forming process. Mr Willink is the sixth person to try to facilitate the formation of a coalition government.

Only if both remaining Christian Democrat rebel MPs support a minority government will there be enough votes (76 seats) to get the new cabinet approved by parliament Mr Wellink is expected to advise the Queen to give the three parties a chance to try for a second time if they have this majority. If they fail, no one can predict what will happen next.

Interestingly, Geert Wilders seems to benefit from this prolonged soap opera, with opinion polls indicating the PVV becoming the biggest party with 32 seats (gain of eight), VVD on 31 seats (unchanged), PvdA on 27 (loss of three) and CDA on 15 (loss of six). It seems the public is loving the drama.

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Tijs Broeke

is former chair of the Dutch Labour party in London

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