Opinion: Dog eats dogPOSTED: 01/30/12 1:54 PM
The Dutch Labor Party – once the pride of leftwing voters – is being eaten alive by its leftwing brethren in the Socialist Party of Emile Roemer.
Yesterday, the SP shot up to 34 seats in Maurice de Hond’s political poll; that’s 19 seats above the 15 the party currently holds in the Second Chamber. The Labor Party has fallen to a measly 17 seats, while it currently occupies 30 seats in parliament. According to De Hond, 10 seats of the SP’s political gains come from the Labor Party.
But this is not just a dog eats dog scenario, because the SP also wins support from voters who previously threw in their lot with the rightwing Freedom Party PVV or with the hapless Christian Democratic Appeal CDA.
The result of all this is that Mark Rutte’s minority-cabinet has a virtual support of 62 seats, 14 below a majority in parliament. Rutte’s VVD remains more or less steady at 30 seats in the polls (31 in the current parliament), but the Freedom Party has seen electoral support drop to just 20 seats, while the CDA is still fading: it now holds 12 seats in the polls, 9 below the 21 it occupies in parliament. Let’s not forget that not too long ago the CDA was close to almighty with 41 seats. That was before the elections that brought the Dutch their minority cabinet, and that dealt the CDA a near fatal blow.
While the Labor Party is suffering, the leftwing block in parliament is doing reasonably well. SP (34), Labor Party (17), GreenLeft (8) and the left liberal D66 (16) together hold 75 seats –clearly better than the fledgling coalition of VVD/CDA with the support of the Freedom Party.
The remaining 13 seats are in the hands of the religious Christian Union (6) and SGP (3) on the rightwing side of the aisle, and of the Party for Animals (3) and 50Plus (1).
No matter how we look at it, even with the support of the religious parties the coalition does not arrive at a majority; the leftwing block would need the Party for Animals to get a governable majority. Such a mixed company of five parties hardly seem a recipe for a stable government.
The rumblings about the sustainability of the current cabinet are increasing. PVV-leader Wilders has already indicated that there is a 50/50 chance that the cabinet will fall, but under the current conditions he will probably not feel like pulling the plug. Ever since Wilders criticized H.M. Queen Beatrix for wearing a head scarf in the Middle East, he has lost support in the polls.
But Wilders’ support is no guarantee for a continued existence of the Rutte-cabinet. Minority-partner CDA could also decide to call it quits. Whether that is political suicide or the right thing to do, remains to be seen.
For the time being, many voters notice with glee that Wilders wild ride to the top seems to have come to an end. The question remains what they will get in return – a stable government or a divided country without decisive leadership.