RTE and the new Dutch cabinet

Yesterday morning and again this morning, there was an item on RTE Radio 1 claiming that Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV) is about to join the Government of the Netherlands. This is not true. As the negotations stand, the new cabinet will be formed by VVD (right or centre), PvdA (left of centre), D66 (left of centre) and Greens. The PVV would be the largest opposition party.

22 thoughts on “RTE and the new Dutch cabinet”

  1. ???
    Still defensive after the World Cup finals……..
    We could get DeJong over here to kick start the economy.

  2. While I am sure that Richard Tol knows infinitely more about Dutch politics than I do, I’d be interested to know by what yardstick the VVD party is considered right-of-centre. From what I’ve read on them (which is very limited), they support a universal welfare state, abortion-on-demand, and consider euthanasia a human right. They appear to me to be far to the left of Obama, whom 55 per cent of Americans now consider to be a socialist.

  3. @JohntheO
    VVD is right of centre on the Dutch political scale. The welfare state is supported by all Dutch parties, while abortion and euthanasia are supported by all parties bar the strict and fundamentalist Christian ones (who have 5 and 2 seats, respectively, out of 150).

  4. Lazy mistake but hey its RTE. Shut them down and let TG4 run the palce.

    On Dutch Politics – How Happy Geert must be. A purple coalition with VVD leading allows PVV to be the largest opposition and also places them nicely to collect VVD floating votes at the next election.

    Richard – The PVV are described as right wing but,in your opinion, is it fair to say that they also include many left wing policies – pension age etc, if not a left wing perspective.

  5. @Richard,

    I’m a little surprised that you’re surprised. The media are in a race to the bottom and there are always elements who will never let the facts get in the way of a ‘story’. Yes, it’s a bit disappointing that the national broadcaster, funded by both a licence fee and advertising and which might be expected to comply with high standards, is indulging in this kind of ‘reporting’, but it seems that the financial and economic crisis (coupled with the travails of the RC Church) has turned everything on its head. When the institutions to which people looked to uphold standards in the areas of governance (both political and financial) and morality have revealed a deep-seated rottenness much else seems to fall away.

    But then again, what is it with all these parties in the Netherlands clustered around the centre, between whom – and at this distance – it would be difficult to insert a cigarette paper? Are they defining themselves in terms of doctrinal differences coming from long-forgotten social and religious disputes that have no resonance with many voters feeling threatened by immigration?

  6. @Paul
    Yesterday’s item was presented as “by our reporter in Amsterdam” who apparently had not read a newspaper in the last couple of weeks.

    Dutch politics used to have three largish parties (right of centre, centre, left of centre) and a number of small, special interest parties. As the right and left moved to the centre (without merging), new parties on the right and left emerged; and as people were disillusioned with the old guard, the special interest parties gained ground. The result is that the largest party has 20% of the seats only; and that viable coalitions have four parties. The older parties are all very pragmatic and substitutable. The newish parties are the dogmatic ones. The only exception is the SGP, the party of the Christian Brotherhood: old and dogmatic.

  7. @Richard Tol

    The fact that they are right-of-centre on the Dutch political scale doesn’t mean that they are right-of-centre. It just means that all the major political parties in Holland are left-of-centre, but that some are more left-of-centre than others.

  8. @ JtO

    To be fair, I think he’s dicsussing Dutch politics in a Dutch political context, wherein the ‘centre’ is a bit left by international standards. We’re all left-wing compared to the US parties!

  9. Thank you, Richard. It is interesting though that, unlike, say, those in Ireland and Britain, the more established parties in the Netherlands have been unable to stauch the flow of voters to the anti-immigrant PVV. Leaving them in opposition – the likely outcome of the current government-forming negotiations (and, perhaps, reflecting the will of the voters) – may actually help to boost their support – “it’s us against the rest”. Often the best, but risky, way is to allow them to participate in governance. This quickly reveals their reliance on demagoguery, lack of substance and inability to deal with the hard, boring grind of governance – and translates rapidly into an evaporation of electoral support at the next time of asking.

  10. @Paul Hunt – “This quickly reveals their reliance on demagoguery, lack of substance and inability to deal with the hard, boring grind of governance – and translates rapidly into an evaporation of electoral support at the next time of asking.”

    That rings a bell somewhere – nearer to home perhaps? 😉

  11. @Joseph,

    Er, no. In the case to which I suspect you are alluding my charge-sheet would be quite a bit different – and longer.

    But there is a serious point here. With the main EU economies adopting austerity – and deflation being imposed on the periphery – the existence of even a small percentage of immigrants from outside the EU who have rights within the Union but who either find it difficult or are unwilling to participate fully in civil society and the economy inevitably will impose strains.

    It is the responsibility of politicians to deal with these strains in an open and honest manner. I fear the Dutch political class has not acquitted itself very well to date in this regard.

  12. @MarcusOC

    To be fair, I think he’s dicsussing Dutch politics in a Dutch political context, wherein the ‘centre’ is a bit left by international standards. We’re all left-wing compared to the US parties!

    Yes, exactly, you’ve hit the nail right bang on the head. I certainly wasn’t criticising Richard Tol for describing them as right-wing. I was criticising the fact that the centre of gravity of politics in the Netherlands (and in many other continental European countries) appears to have been pushed so far to the left, that even ‘right-wing’ parties now have policies that until recently would have been the prerogative of the left, in many cases the far left. This has made them identikit parties or, to use Richard’s term, substitutable.

    This is particularily true in relation to social policies, where left-liberalism now rules the roost in Europe, with a continuous assault on any place for religion in society, on traditional family values and morality, and on the right-to-life. Hence, even ‘right-wing’ parties in the Netherlands now apparently support abortion-on-demand and euthanasia, removing religion from any role in society, legalisation of even the worst pornography as well as drug-taking. The results have been predictable across Europe: social and family breakdown and demographic collapse. The latter, in particular, threatens to overwhelm the economies of the worst-affected continental European countries, bringing about a geriatric population and an end to economic growth because of it.

    The UK is fast heading in the same direction, the last vestiges of social conservatism having been extinguished with the recent takeover of the Conservative Party by the Liberal Democrats in the David Clegg/Nick Cameron coalition. The UK is now similar to the Netherlands in that all the major parties there have identikit left-liberal social policies and are, to use Richard’s term again, substitutable.

    Ireland has been one of the few countries to put up any resistance to the left-liberal social agenda, and has benefitted from that resistance in the shape of a high birth rate and low abortion rate, a relatively young population because of it, with resultant high economic growth, and relatively stable families and society. But, if the media have anything to do with it, Ireland too will succumb at the next election. Most of the Irish media would like a situation here that is similar to what Richard describes for the Netherlands, namely all the major parties accepting the left-liberal social agenda lock, stock and barrel, and differing only on trivia. That’s what the continual media demonisation of Fianna Fail and continual media vilification of Enda Kenny are all about.

    Fortunately, not for the first time, America is coming to Europe’s rescue. The media-backed left-liberal elite over there are about to get the big heave-ho, resulting in the imploding Obama being the last left-liberal President for several decades and President Palin becoming the first of a long line of socially conservative Presidents.

  13. if that’s what the optimists are saying, i’ll have to stop reading this blog. you’ve sapped my will to live long enough.

  14. The latter, in particular, threatens to overwhelm the economies of the worst-affected continental European countries, bringing about a geriatric population and an end to economic growth because of it.

    You do realise that the continental European countries with the highest birth rates are the not very socially-conservative Nordics? And Turkey, not much beloved of Meneer Wilders and friends.

    That’s what the continual media demonisation of Fianna Fail [is] all about.

    Funny, I thought it might have something to do with the current state of the economy that they’ve been in charge of for the last thirteen years (along with their departed PD partners-in-crime).

    Any chance that we could get PaulTheOctopus to offer some more accurate commentary?

  15. @ JtO

    Right, this post probably isn’t the best place to discuss all that. For the record though, I strongly disagree.

  16. Coalition negotiations have collapsed.

    Plan B is VVD (centre right), CDA (centre), and PvdA (centre left) — all of course on the Dutch scale of right and left — but still no PVV.

  17. the aim of the site is to be interesting, and interesting enough to have curious commentators take the time to read and post as per above.

    dont be a bore comrade!

    How likely will CDA and PvdA get into bed again. Was the last few months a trial separation or a real divorce?

    And anything to keep the PVV out. Distasteful machinations!

  18. It seems that the PVV will provide backbench support to a minority VVD and CDA government. Power without responsibility. I expect many in the VVD and CDA couldn’t have stomached it, but bringing the PVV into the governing tent would have held their feet to the fire and ensured some accountability. It would be amazing how quickly their lack of governing competence and the extent to which they are a ‘one man band’ would be exposed.

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