Opinion: A long hot summer

POSTED: 04/23/12 8:37 PM

Now that the Rutte-government has finally crumbled Dutch voters will have to sit through a long hot summer before they get the opportunity to give their politicians a piece of their mind at the ballot box.

As things stand now, the country is in for another significant shift. Rutte’s rightwing government will have to make place for a team with a different makeup, if Maurice de Hond’s political polls are anything to go by.

Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party seems to be losing support, and that is good news for everyone who abhors his xenophobic agenda. According to de Hond, 30 percent of Freedom Party voters will turn its back on Wilders and his gang. It is rather amazing that an astonishing 10 percent of Freedom Party voters indicated this weekend that they will now vote for the Socialist Party. These voters are predominantly in the lower income category.

Another indication that the Freedom Party is past its prime is that practically no voters from other parties indicated that they will switch to this party.

Being rid of what some observers in the Netherlands have called a monstrosity does not mean per se that something better will replace the Rutte-government. It is obviously too early to make any definite statements about this future government, though participants in De Hond’s opinion poll mostly favored a five-party coalition with the Labor Party, the socialist Party, GreenLeft, D66 and the Christian Union. This theoretical option has the support of 19 percent of the poll-participants.

Remarkably, the purple cabinet of the nineties under Wim Kok (with Labor Party, VVD and D66) has the lowest support (4 percent), while the Freedom Party features in only one possible combination (with VVD and CDA) – but that  team has just fallen apart and had the support of no more than 8 percent.

What de Hond’s poll also makes clear is that voters are fed up with politics. An overwhelming 81 percent says that parties have to “jump over their own shadows” meaning that they have to be more flexible, while 66 percent says that it is literally completely fed up. Notable is also the answer to the statement that not a single party keeps an eye on the Dutch interests: 40 percent agrees with this. The highest support for it is to be found, not surprisingly, among Freedom Party voters.
Creating a five-party coalition is of course also a recipe for disaster, but that did not seem to bother the participants in the poll. The Christian Union is a necessary addition to a leftwing cabinet with Labor, SP. GreenLeft and D66; without that party the left will not manage to win a majority. And if nothing else works, Maxime Verhagen and his struggling CDA will come knocking for a place at the negotiations-table.

Whatever the outcome will be, voters have an opportunity after the summer to correct the country’s image by voting for something, instead of, as the Freedom Party-followers did in 2010 – vote against almost everything.


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