Dutch Politics in disarray

13 03 2010

By Arthur Legger, via Tidsskriftet Sappho:

At half past three in the “small tower” of the Het Catshuis in The Hague on the very cold Saturday morning of February 20, after 16 hours of non-stop negotiation and one decent meal (Indonesian rijsttafel), the Dutch Cabinet finally fell. Pressured by a vindictive and personal hatred between Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende (CDA) and Minister of Finance Wouter Bos (PvdA); ambivalence over the Dutch military presence in Afghanistan and its province Oruzgan; the economic crisis; the upcoming municipal elections on March 3 (with polls predicting the pulverization of Cabinet’s parties); and Geert Wilders’ incessant critique and challenging pace, the Cabinet’s leading parties of Social Democrats (PvdA) and Christian Democrats (CDA) began falling apart. The demise of the government started on February 4 –the day after the Amsterdam Court decided to prosecute Geert Wilders on all charges (see: Dutch Justice). 

Two weeks of Machiavellian power politics followed. The former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO’s Secretary General, was misinformed, misguided and misused by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxim Verhagen (CDA), in order to outmanoeuvre Wouter Bos and to cow the Social Democrats. Yet, fearing the coming local elections and the sentiment amongst its voters, the PvdA faction decided not to give in to CDA’s demands, regardless of the costs and international critique (NRC Handelsblad, 20/2/2010) (De Volkskrant, 22/2/2010). Though they had been forced to stick together in order to withstand Wilders’ whirlwind, Jan-Peter Balkenende, heading his fourth Cabinet, and Wouter Bos were unable to stand each others presence for another day let alone another four months. The period it would take to come up with the winning agenda to tackle the crisis and to see Wilders proven guilty by the Amsterdam Court. “I’ll hang out the flag!” Wilders immediately responded, followed by: “the Party For Freedom will win the coming elections! We’re ready!” (Het Parool, 20/2/2010).

Read the rest here.

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