Small fry, 30 March
Some small fry from the past ten days that might be of interest to political observers:
- A while back I reported the weird remarks of an American general about gays in the Dutch army. Meanwhile Pink Army wants to launch a class action suit against him in California. Note that this group is new, and is not the official representative of gays in the Dutch army.
In parliament the fractions of, among others, PvdA, CDA, VVD, and SP, have declared to support Pink Army. (This support is mainly moral; I can’t think of a thing parliament can do in this case, except demand apologies from the US government, which would be a proper job for government.)
(Source: Volkskrant |
- And today general Sheehan offered apologies. Good. Pink Army has retracted its law suit. Case probably closed.
(Source: Volkskrant |
- For more years than I can remember, parliament and government have been discussing a major overhaul of the car tax. Until now the car tax rate is flat, dependent only on the type of car, but time and again it has been proposed to abolish the tax and instead charge for actual driving.
I must admit that I do not understand this issue, mostly because I don’t own a car. Still, it can generate quite heated tension among principled car drivers (who mostly belong on the right), not least because every Dutch car would have to have a “black box” installed that measures the actual road use, and thus the amount due to the state.
Traffic and waterstate minister Eurlings (the former CDA crown prince) has worked hard on the switch to a driving charge, but wasn’t quite ready yet to present his plans to parliament when government fell and the whole issue was declared controversial. (A “demissionary” government, as Balkenende IV is now, cannot treat controversial issues.)
Now the CDA has made an about-face. Where it formerly supported its own minister (and thus the driving charge), it recently stated during a debate that it thought the proposed solution was too complex, and that resistance in society was too large. Therefore it now opposes the plan.
Translation: the CDA feels an urgent need to pander to the right-wing vote. I hope this episode will serve as ammunition for the CDA’s enemies (i.e. all other parties).
(Source: NRC |
- D66 has published a draft of its candidate list. This list will probably have to be discussed and amended by the party congress (can’t recall D66’s rules right now, but usually they do stuff like that).
The only surprise is that former national news anchorwoman Pia Dijkstra features on the list, on place 16. Since D66 averages 15 seats right now, she would just fail to be elected. Of course, if D66 enters the coalition several party leaders will move on to government and seats in parliament will hae to be filled, so Dijkstra could enter in this second wave.
(Source: Telegraaf |
- PVV MP Brinkman, a former police officer, seems to have a protracted argument with a man he’d invited to live in part of his house in exchange for some work on that house. The argument seems to have escalated to the point of hammers being used, and both men have filed charges against each other.
This is not the first incident Brinkman is involved in. A while back he was refused more drinks by a bartender in the parliamentary news centre, and later the bartender charged Brinkman with hitting him.
Maybe it’s time Wilders gets rid of Brinkman. He’s turning into a liability.
(Source: Algemeen Dagblad)
- Last week I reported that Wilders would not go to the US to attend the premiere of a film made about him by an extreme-right US group because the group’s leader, Mawyer, has years ago called homosexuals “diseased.”
Meanwhile the premier of the film has been cancelled entirely because the organiser, too, is unhappy with Mawyer’s statements.
Tempest in a teacup.
- When Turkish prime minister Erdogan called 1,500 European politicians of Turkish descent to a conference in Istanbul, he is supposed to have told them not to integrate in whatever country they live in, but to become politically more active, or so German
Der Spiegel reports. (Integration and political activity do not exclude each other, but this is how the news was reported.)
In reaction, a CDA MP asked government whether Dutch-Turkish politicians were involved, and to stress to the Turkish government that such intrusion upon another country’s political process is unwarranted.
(In fact, I feel this is a downright stupid move of the Turkish government. Not only does it make European politicians of Turkish descent suspect in the eyes of their countrymen, it might also set back Turkish EU membership a bit.)
The point is that we had similar problems in the 2006 elections. Turkish candidates of CDA and PvdA were asked to affirm that the Turks had committed genocide on the Armenians back in 1915, and they refused and were removed from the party lists. The only party that did not ask this was D66, and it was exactly D66 candidate Koser-Kaya, of Turkish descent, who was the single candidate to be elected by preferential votes. It was said that this was caused by the Turkish government calling on Turkish voters to vote for Turkish candidates. In any case, foul play was suspected.
More in general, the problem here is the Turkish and Moroccan governments seeing Turks and Moroccans living in Europe primarily as a kind of fifth column that will serve their state of birth, and not their state of residence. This will eventually come back to bite Turks and Moroccans; this sort of game is dangerous.
- A few days later prime minister Balkenende attacked Geert Wilders for his remarks during the showing of his film Fitna in London. Wilders called Erdogan a “total freak,” and Balkenende warned that this style of talking could get the country in problems.
Wilders, however, had a glorious comeback by pointing at Erdogan’s earlier attempt to influence European politics, an attempt even Balkenende’s own CDA denounced.
One-nil for Wilders, I’m afraid.
(Source: Algemeen Dagblad |
- The Electoral Council, responsible for the elections, has now officially registered 61 parties, 15 of which were registered after the fall of government. That’s not to say all these parties will participate in the elections; there are several sleeping parties that participated in earlier elections but won’t run now, as well as several newcomers (such as the Pirate Party) that may run in future elections but probably not in this one.
- Animal rights party PvdD will hold its party congress in late April, just as the other parties do. However, outsiders will not be welcome at the congress. a peculiarity the PvdD shares with the PVV. Party spokespeople refer to the rules and regulations, which clearly state that the party congress will take place in a closed format.
Some say that several PvdD members are radical animal rights activists, who would prefer to remain unknown to police. Party spokespeople rejected that theory, and said there was nothing unusual about the situation.
- Finally, new SGP party leader Van der Staaij officially accepted the nomination. In his speech he said he wanted to act agains the principle of equality that evolves so rapidly that it threatens freedom of religion. The SGP is traditionally against equal rights for women, and is imperfectly happy with equal rights for gays, too. Van der Staaij also attacked the CU, who had, in his opinion, watered down its christian roots in order to participate in government. He also pointed out that, despite CDA and CU sitting in government, typical christian anathemas such as abortion, euthanasia, and shops being open on Sundays had not been banned.
(Source: Nederlands Dagblad)
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- Written on 30 March 2010
- Categorized in CDA, CU, D66, Immigrants, Minor parties, PVV, PvdD, SGP, Van der Staaij, Wilders
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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.