Opinion: A return to tolerance

POSTED: 05/14/12 12:39 PM

To say that there is election fever in the Netherlands is an overstatement. There is a long hot summer ahead and for the time being people are more thinking about the European soccer championship in Kiev and about the scary opponents the national team has to face over there than about the slim chances of Geert Wilders to become the largest party after the September 12 elections. Chances for Wilders to pull that stunt are about on a par with the national soccer team bringing home the bacon after the final on July 1.

In the latest political poll, Wilders’ Freedom Party has to make do with a miserable 20 seats. Miserable is of course relative. Rutte’s VVD dropped two seats and stands now at 28, while the death struggle of the CDA seems to have come to an end: the party won two seats in the polls and stands not at 15.

The socialist Party also lost a seat but it still has 29 in the polls (15 in the real world). The Labor Party remains stuck at 20, while D66 is looking up with 17.

The unknown factor remains Hero Brinkman and his Independent Citizens Party. He is not on the radar of political pollsters yet, though the candidates he presented for his list make observers fear the worst for Brinkman’s political future. Still, he will most likely take voters away from Wilders.

What the political landscape will the September elections be is anybody’s guess, but the time seems right for the pendulum to swing away from the far right towards the center with a good influence from leftwing parties like the Labor and the Socialist Party. Based on the figures of this weekend’s poll they hold 49 seats, enough to find a majority in parliament if they manage to find common ground with center-left D66 (17 seats) and the CDA(15 seats).

That Wilders will get another chance to determine the political agenda for the next four years is as good as impossible. The CDA has already indicated that it has had its fill with Wilders, and Labor, Socialist Party and D66 would rather take a root canal than a political deal with the Freedom Party.

Already the agenda Wilders has pushed so hard and so loud starts to fall apart: the abolition of the dual nationality is no longer an issue, the burqa ban is off the table; even the Freedom Party’s ridiculed animal police seems to be destined for an early trip to the slaughterhouse.

With these things in mind it seems likely that the Netherlands will once again become a country where tolerance is taken seriously and where there is place for citizens from all walks of life. The climate remains a sore point of course, but the Dutch and all those others who have made the country their home will just have to put up with it.

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