Wednesday’s general elections in the Netherlands were won by the far-left. The Communist Socialistische Partij (SP) added 17 seats to the 9 it previously held, securing an overall number of 26 seats in the 150-seat Dutch Parliament. The SP became the country’s third largest party, overtaking the center-right Liberal Party VVD, which fell to 22 seats from 28. The centrist Christian-Democrats (CDA) of Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende remained the biggest party with 41 seats (44 previously), followed by the center-left Labour Party (PvdA) which lost ten seats, ending up with 32 seats. To the right, the Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF), the anti-immigrant party of the late Pim Fortuyn, who was assassinated in 2002 by an animal-rights activist, lost its 8 seats. It was replaced by the “islamophobic” Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders, a breakaway Liberal, who gained 9 seats. The remaining 20 seats were divided among five parties, including the PvdD, a party of animal right activists who gained 2 seats in the first elections they participated in, and the Christen Unie (CU), a Calvinist and morally conservative but economically leftist party, whose seats doubled to 6.Some see bad for the Left.The BBC sees nothing good either way.
The Dutch used to go in for consensus politics, but a swing from the centre to the margins in the latest election has left even seasoned observers scratching their heads.CNN, as is usual, is confused because they can't blame Bush.
After Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic and Austria, now the Netherlands has woken up to an election result that has yielded no clear winner and promises a prolonged period of political drift and uncertainty.The Economist has a knee jerk reaction - totally off phase.
ONCE a country renowned for tolerance of minorities of all stripes, the Netherlands now risks being known for an ugly debate over its growing Muslim population. As preliminary results emerged from general elections on Wednesday November 22nd, it became clear that a previously insignificant far-right party, the Party For Freedom, may claim as many as nine seats in a parliament of 150. The party had campaigned for a halt to all immigration, and in particular was hostile towards Muslims, calling for a ban on the building of religious schools and mosques and for a ban on veils worn by Muslim women.If their panties were in a wad over Communists and Maoist that were also increasing in power - then perhaps they would get more respect.
Me? It's a mess and makes me glad we have the system, however flawed, that we have. But if you are looking strictly Right and Left - looks like a 50/50 nation - which means that the Left won't get a chance to pull The Netherlands out of Afghanistan. I thought the Left would win this one. So, on balance. I am happy.
UPDATE: A reader send a hint along to an English version of the "Voter Test" many in the Netherlands used to determine who they should vote for. Below are my results. I'm with List Fortuyn. I can live with that.