Negotiations to watch — Almere

It’s time to return to the local coalition negotiations in Rotterdam, Almere, and Den Haag. All three are unusual in that a large right-wing party (Leefbaar Rotterdam and twice Wilders’s PVV) challenges the might of the local PvdA.

Besides, monitoring these negotiations will be a useful practice run for June and July, when this blog will mainly discuss the national coalition negotiations.

Today we continue with Almere.

What has gone before

PVV
9 seats
PvdA
8 seats
VVD
7 seats
D66
3 seats
GL
3 seats
LA
3 seats
SP
2 seats
CDA
2 seats
CU
1 seat
ToN
1 seat

In Almere Wilders’s PVV became the largest party and thus won the initiative in coalition negotiations. I reported earlier about the problems the PVV was creating for itself by its un-negotiable points and its exclusion of local Leefbaar Almere, as well as the unlikelihood of any of the parties of the left entering a coalition with the Wilderites.

My conclusion was that the PVV doesn’t want to govern; instead it wants to grow nice and fat in the opposition; preferably pitting itself as the true representatives of the will of the people against a PvdA-led coalition.

Negotiations

Meanwhile it has become clear that the PVV-led negotiations mostly consisted of the PVV reiterating its standpoints (no Islamic headscarves in public buildings, “city commandos” to act against (presumably Moroccan) criminals, etc.) The local PvdA, GL, SP, and D66 leaders found little common ground to enter into serious coalition talks, and were done within half an hour.
(Source: Almere Vandaag)

Of course all this is a hideous sin against Dutch political propriety. Even if you don’t really want a certain coalition, if circumstances dictate you’re supposed to spend days, weeks, even months in negotiations to show your voters, as well as the other parties, that you’ve truly tried to come to an agreement.

The general feeling is that the PVV has been extremely quick in rejecting the left-wing parties, especially second-largest PvdA. The point is of course that the PVV is not interested in negotiating; it just wants to play out the charade as quickly as possible.

The real question is whom the blame will be assigned to. In the eyes of its fanatical followers the PVV can do no wrong and everything is the evil leftists’s fault, but proper assignation of blame may influence more moderate voters who hesitate between PVV and VVD (or SP) for the national elections.

Round 1.5

Talks between PVV and VVD have taken somewhat longer. The VVD is just about the only party that’s hasn’t voiced grave doubts about negotiating with the PVV on a national level, and it has a lot of voters it wants to retrieve from the Wilderites. Thus it must take the populists serious — or at the very least appear to do so.

Still, the local VVD leader stated that in his view a PVV+PvdA+VVD coalition was the best solution. Apparently he didn’t want to stand alone in his cooperation with the PVV. Besides, PVV+VVD still need four more seats for a majority.
(Source: Telegraaf | Trouw)

Yesterday night local PVV party leader De Roon announced that he doesn’t see the PVV form a coalition. He deplores the complete lack of concessions on the part of the other parties, conveniently omitting to mention that the PVV’s standpoints are a lot more radical and it hasn’t shown the slightest tendency to compromise, either.
(Source: NRC | Volkskrant)

Round 2

Now that the PVV has yielded the initiative, the PvdA will take over. It’s likely that Almere is heading for a PvdA+VVD+? coalition. PvdA and VVD still need five more seats, two more parties.

However, among the middling parties the realisation is growing that PvdA and VVD will basically pick whomever they like. That’s the usual state of affairs in local politics; and in national politics as well.

Therefore D66, GL, and local LA (3 seats each) have formed an alliance. They have agreed only to enter negotiations together, so that PvdA and VVD will have to take all three or none. Without this block, the PvdA and VVD would have to find three more parties for a coalition, and that’s definitely stretching things.
(Source: Telegraaf | Parool | Trouw | Algemeen Dagblad | Volkskrant)

Consequences for the PVV

Still, the main focus ought to be on the PVV. How will they defend the breaking off of the negotiations, and will their arguments make sense to fence-sitting voters? Or will PvdA and VVD convince everyone but the hard core that the PVV refuses to take governmental responsibility?

The VVD has already started this attack line. It accused the PVV of turncoating when, after only one round of talks, it decided to abandon the initiative.

The PvdA disagreed. It stated that the PVV’s decision was basically correct — it could not get a majority coalition, and now the PvdA may try. The VVD disagreed; it now calls for the appointment of an informer; also to make sense of the three-party D66+GL+LA coalition.
(Source: Trouw)

It is interesting to compare Almere 2010 to Rotterdam 2002. Then, Fortuyn’s Leefbaar Rotterdam had won a great victory. Fortuyn was magnanimous in victory; he set far less demands than the other parties had feared. He did that because he desperately wanted to prove himself fit for government. Although LR excluded the PvdA, it proved itself willing to work with VVD and CDA.

In the same way the PVV could have created a coalition with VVD, CDA, and Leefbaar Almere. But the PVV, unlike Fortuyn, is not interested in governmental responsibility.

It just wants to shout. Who knows, it might even work.

<— Polls, polls, polls — coalition edition | Party profile — ToN —>

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.

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