Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Posts Tagged ‘PvdA’

Wilders’ Delusions of becoming Premier

Posted by butalidnl on 11 March 2010

Geert Wilders’ party – the PVV (Freedom Party) won the local elections of Almere city with 21% of the vote, making it the biggest party in the city council, and the one which will have to form the governing coalition  for Almere.

Wilders is the Dutch parliamentarian who says that Islam is a “backward” religion, even political ideology; that the government should promulgate an “immigration-stop” from Muslim countries, and even repatriate many Muslim residents from the Netherlands. He had announced before the elections that one of his hard demands will be a prohibition on (Muslim) headscarfes inside government buildings, or inside any institution getting a subsidy from the government.

Now, with the victory in Almere, he  has to go ahead with his many anti-Muslim policies.

But he is not on his way to becoming the country’s Prime Minister. In the first place, the PVV had peaked before the local elections. Surveys conducted weeks earlier forecast that PVV will get 30% of the vote. They ended up with a “mere” 21%. The PVV only fielded candidates in two cities – Almere and The Hague – because Wilders calculated that its chances were best there. Thus, if 21% is all he can get in Almere, the percentage of the national vote that he can get in June is sure to be less than 21%.

Even if Wilders PVV gets more than 21% come June,  this will not be enough to become the biggest party. The Social Democrats (PvdA) will probably get more than 21% and become the largest party in parliament; giving it the prerogative of forming the ruling coalition. And the PvdA has stated quite clearly that it will not form a government with the PVV.

Muslim Netherlanders are now in the midst of a massive campaign to get out their vote come June.  They know that the PVV is out to get anti-Muslim policies passed in parliament. These voters will vote mostly for the PvdA and Green Left (Groen Links), the only two parties with good policies on integration.
At the same time, the PVV is sure to face problems in Almere, since the proposed ban on headscarves is not only unpopular, it is most probably also unconstitutional. And the PVV doesn’t have too much else to offer its mass base. And even this mass base is not as solid as Wilders makes it out to be. On voting day last 3 March, it was really difficult to get PVV supporters to talk to the media – they were too ashamed to admit that they were PVV voters. I think that although the PVV may have a solid base among the country’s rednecks, many others only look at them as a protest party, and are shocked by the reaction of the rest of the country on them. Thus, when election day in June comes, I think that the “protest voter” base of the PVV will evaporate.

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Labor wins local elections in Tilburg

Posted by butalidnl on 4 March 2010

They won! The PvdA (Partij van de Arbeid, Labor Party) won in the municipal elections held on 3 March in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Tilburg? Well, Tilburg is the sixth largest city in the Netherlands, and holds the distinction of being the city where a Filipina, Maya Butalid has served in its city council. Maya Butalid did not run this time around, having already served two terms in the city council, because she says she wants  others to have their chance.

The PvdA won 11 of the 45 seats available, or 22 percent. This is the same number of seats as they hold at present, making them the single biggest party in the council. This means that the PvdA will be the party that will lead talks at forming a coalition to run Tilburg, and most likely be part of the coalition itself.

PvdA’s victory in Tilburg is even more extraordinary given that the PvdA lost seats in most of the country. In most municipalities, PvdA lost seats – which contrasts to the extremely high number of seats they won 4 years ago. PvdA-Tilburg increased its seats to 11 from 7 in the last elections, going with the national trend. And when the trend went against them, they surprised everybody by retaining their seats.

This all goes to show that the Tilburg PvdA’s  victory can be attributed to their local performance.  There is a solid base of PvdA voters which will not be swayed by national trends or issues.  Maya Butalid, who held the party’s portfolios on Poverty Reduction and Integration in the council, says that their party enjoys the solid support of the poor and immigrants, who look at them as the party that advances their interests. No amount of political controversy could shake this support. And Tilburg has had its share of controversy: with a failed attempt to set up a shopping mall, with the resignation of the mayor, as well as the resignation of a “wethouder” (one of the 7 people who run the city on a daily basis).

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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.

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