Dutch Government Falls
Posted by butalidnl on 20 February 2010
The Dutch government fell last night. This is not as earth-shaking as it sounds. The government composed of the CDA (Christian Democrats), PvdA (Social Democrats) and Christen Unie (“Christian Union”) fell apart last night (as in 2 am) on the issue of whether to extend the mission of Dutch troops in Afghanistan.
The Dutch have been in Afghanistan since 2007, originally for a two-year mission. Then, in 2008, they extended it for another two years, till the end of this year. Now, the CDA (with pressure exerted by the Americans) want to extend the mission AGAIN – though in a smaller form – and the PvdA said no. The PvdA said no, because that was the agreement of two years ago. The troops have been there long enough, the resources of the military are already all used up, and the war is unpopular among the Dutch. Actually, the Parliament as a whole is against the troop mission, but since the Cabinet is the one to decide these matters, it was up to the PvdA to “put its foot down” on the issue.
The issue is complicated further by the fact that local elections are also about to be held – by 3 March. Because of the elections, the PvdA could not afford to have any flexibility on this matter. Any sign of a compromise would reflect badly on their local candidates. But the CDA was under intense pressure from the US, which wanted the Dutch to stay on. So, the ruling parties met yesterday, met about it – and they met, and met, and met… 16 hours straight – from 10 am till 4 am. But, no solution was found. So, the PvdA “pulled the plug” on the government.
What happens next is still quite open. Now, the ball goes to the queen (Queen Beatrix). The prime minister will present her with his resignation; then, the Queen will consult with all party leaders on what to do next. Because the choice is either to try to form a new government from the present parliament, or to have elections. And if a new government is to be formed, who will form it.
For ordinary citizens, the falling of the government has no immediate effect. The government bureaucracy goes on with its work, and of course government services go on as usual. But the decisions for example on financial policies, especially with the economic crisis ongoing. The Cabinet was supposed to put together an economic plan for going out of the recession. Now, this goes to the caretaker cabinet, which has much less powers.
So, even if the effect is not immediate, the country should not go too long without a government.