Small fry; 25 February
Some small fry that might be interesting to political observers:
- Farmers get tired of Balkenende. This is unexpected, since farmers (and more in general
people who live in the countryside) are about the most solidly reliable CDA voters in the
entire country. Still, 53% of farmers does not want Balkenende back for yet another spell
as prime minister.
- The Limburg chapter of the CDA youth organisation feels that Balkenende should not lead
the CDA in the coming elections. They especially criticise Balkenende’s many governments
(four in eight years), and compare it to Italy (which, incidentally, is pretty stable nowadays).
Anyway, the hidden point here is that Limburg is the power base of second-ranking catholic
Eurlings. The article does not say which politician the youth organisation feels
should lead the CDA into the elections, but that’s not really necessary, either.
Nothing much will come of it, but it’s one more nail in Balkenende’s coffin.
- Due to the reshuffling of ministries now that the PvdA ministers have gone, CU party leader
Rouvoet has become minister of Education and Culture. The point here is that this ministry also
concerns itself with gay emancipation. Yesterday it became known that Rouvoet has refused to treat
this subject himself, and instead has delegated it to secretary of state Bijsterveld (CDA).
Gay emancipation is one of those topics that the orthodox-protestant CU just cannot endorse. In
contrast, eternal centre party CDA is forced to smile and do it, because both PvdA and VVD would
demand it in the event of a coalition.
Obviously, gay organisations criticise the minister, who stated that he doesn’t understand
what all the fuss is about. Organisationally it made more sense to give gay emancipation to
Whatever. The point is that this is one of the very few topics where the CU can profile itself
as more christian than the CDA while not endangering government.
- Former NATO secretary-general De Hoop Scheffer (who was Balkenende’s predecessor as
CDA party leader) stated that that the fall of government
has hurt Dutch interests abroad, especially with the NATO. He berates himself for not making clearer
that the fight in Afghanistan is vitally necessary to protect Europe from terrorism (not).
Anyway, the point here is that so far only CDA luminaries are talking about this subject. Even the
VVD doesn’t really support the christian-democrats. Expect this topic to silently fizzle
out over the next few weeks. Dutch voters just don’t care.
- When it comes to declaring topics sensitive (and remember, such topics cannot be treated by
a “demissionary” government), the VVD sides with the rest of the opposition —
unless it’s about VVD talking points, of course. The crisis law, an anti-squatter law,
and other right-wing playthings are not sensitive, but most of the rest (pension age upgrade,
the new liquor and pub law) should not be treated.
D66 leader Pechtold, on the other hand, feels the government should have some leeway in treating
urgent stuff; notably the crisis law. Still, he feels it’s up to parliament now to decide
what’s urgent and what isn’t.
Not totally unexpected, but still bad news for Balkenende, who had hoped parliament would give
him more leeway.
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This is the political blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer,
in Amsterdam. It’s a hobby blog where he follows Dutch politics for the benefit of those twelve
foreigners that are interested in such matters, as well as his Dutch readers.