Posts Tagged ‘government coalitions’

Compromise happens to be the most radical act in politics, allowing for the sharing of power, accepting differences to such an extant that it even changes your own opinion. In Dutch politics there always have been more horses wanting to draw the carriage of state than directions to go to, so compromises of what direction to take need to be made. Today after weeks of negotiations the attempt to form a Liberal + Middle + Left + Green ‘carriage-and-four’ combination failed. We are back to two options that have been considered over a month or so back in time, with two possible ‘troikas’ (horse teams) with Left + Middle + Liberal or  a set of horses with Liberal + Middle + Right horses. The power distribution of all this pulling power is such that the two combinations on view – once again – will have the same pulling forward power as the pulling backward power of the possible opposition coalitions in parliament. So the outcome may well be no movement at all. Backing the wrong coalition of horses may end up with putting the cart before the horse.

What we see is the unwise consequences of parliamentary democracy, where parties did not make it clear before elections with which other horses they would like to pull the carriage. “It is to the voters to speak” that is what most party leaders said before elections. This speculative and unclear tactics whereby parties try to keep the mandate they receive from their voters to themselves and settle a government coalition in non-transparent outmoded secret back-room negotiations, have now shown its undemocratic face and utter failure.

The Netherlands need a fundamental change whereby the dynamic favour shifts of the electorate can find a real democratic expression in a series of binding combinations, that have been communicated clearly before elections. With the institution of a direct involvement of a constitutional head of state – in the form of a hereditary queen or king – in the forming of government coalitions, the Netherlands remain one of the most backward nations in Europe when it comes to direct forms of democracy. This in spite of all the self-glorification of the Dutch as a freedom loving and superior democratic nation. That is nothing more than double-dutch fantasy… or better a dutch-lie.

CDA=Christian Democrats/Middle; D66=Democrats 66/Middle-Liberals; GL=Green Left; PvdA=Social Democrats/Traditional Left; PVV=Party For Freedom/Right Wing; VVD=Liberals/Middle-Right

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Green Left political ballerina Femke Halsema in the daily Het Parool on June 30. 2010 in a ‘pas de deux’ on the stage of the Binnenhof in The Hague, illustrating an article that says that according to the left wing parties there are no more options for a right wing coalition government. She is quoted to have said that the public moaning of right wing party leader of the PVV Geert Wilders, of being excluded is “just stage-baloney” as he refused an invitation of Liberal VVD party leader Rutte to talk once again about the right wing coalition option. Now the caption in the newspaper does not say who is the male dancer so perfect in line with the ballerina… or do I see it wrong, is it not a ballet, and does the photograph only prove the observation of Milan Kundera in his opus ‘Immortality’: “there are far fewer gestures in the world than there are individuals.”  Translating this back to Dutch politics one may say: “there are far less government coalitions than there are political parties.”

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This is the coalition government most seriously studied in the coming days: two big winners trying to persuade one big loser to combine forces. Compared to the elections of 2006 VVD grew from 22 to 31 seats, PVV from 9 to 24 and CDA lost 20 seats and now has 21 representatives in parliament. Historically speaking the actual argument – supported by almost all parties – that governmental participation of the PVV party should be taken most serious as they have seen the biggest growth in votes, shows how party politics is based on short memory. The oscillating favours of Dutch voters in the last two decades resulted in the national elections of the year 2003 in sudden growth of votes for the Socialist Party (SP). They grew from 9 to 25 seats which is one seat more of sudden growth than the now triumphant PVV party of Geert Wilders. In 2003 the bright red horse of the SP was maneuvered out of government within days. Nobody taking their victory serious. Where the PVV has grown in 2010 elections with 15 seats to a total of 24, the SP had grown in 2006 with 16 seats to a total of 25 (of which they have lost now 10 seats). These are the vicissitudes of the parliamentary system in which the act of counting and the value of numbers is most peculiar  and has its own non-mathematical logic. As ‘a majority’ in our actual democratic system  = 1/2 the total numbers number of seats + 1, the ‘ars combinatoria’ of selecting party horses that will pull the ‘wagon of state’ will at one moment in history not value an electoral success, while at another moment prize a defeat.

Most parties in the scattered landscape of Dutch party politics enter the election process with blind faith and false hope that they will gain enough votes to form a government with one or two friends. Most of the party leaders refuse to tell the voters on forehand who their friends are or will be. The most heard argument has been  “you voters, it is you who decide.” After the elections democracy ends up with a decision process of wheeling and dealing directed by a hereditary monarch and a lackey appointed by her for this occasion. “De kiezer heeft gesproken” (the voter has spoken) is the expression of the day, while on the basis of marginal differences in actual votes, unpredictable government coalitions are wrought which have measures and policies in stall that will go against that what the majority of the voters have tried to express at the one brief moment in time that they could mark their ballot-paper. After one month of staged political debates on television and party leaders feigning ‘direct democracy’ on twitter, it is back to ‘back-room policies’.

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