Know your coalitions — Left

In order to properly prepare you for what’s going to happen after the elections it’s time to talk about coalitions. Dutch parties and voters have been thinking about them from the start, and they are everyone’s number 2 priority (number 1 being “How do I get as many votes as possible?” or “Which party shall I vote for?”)

Today we continue with Left.

There has only been one left-wing government ever, the Den Uyl one (1973-1977), and even that was not a true left-wing coalitions. Sure, the core was formed by PvdA, D66, and GL predecessor PPR, but together these parties only commanded 56 seats. Communist CPN (7) and pacifist-socialist PSP (2) also belonged to the left wing but were considered too radical and left out of the negotiations. Even with them included the Den Uyl government would have had only 65 seats.

Therefore Den Uyl got help from the christian centre by admitting left-wing politicians of catholic KVP and protestant ARP into government. Even though KVP and ARP never formally supported government, the christian ministers made sure that government got a parliamentary majority when it needed it.

Nowadays, little has changed. The left block’s greatest victory was 1998, when it won exactly half of the seats, but since then it has fallen back somewhat to the current 70 seats, two of which are for the PvdD and thus inaccessible to normal coalition building.

All in all I feel that the left-wing coalition is the least likely one. It’ll have to be a four-party coalition, and even then it will probably have too few seats. It would have to conquer ten seats on the right, and there’s little chance that they’ll make it.

But the left-wing coalition will arrive only if these three voter shifts happen simultaneously. The parties of the left will all have to suck seats from their right-wing opponents. That seems very unlikely.

Even if they somehow magically pulled that trick, both PvdA and D66 would have to decide to go over left instead of over the safe centre, and that is unlikely, too.

Right now the PvdA is making some appreciative noises about left-wing cooperation, but I feel that that’s mainly meant as a tactical move against the SP. In the 2006 elections the SP could grow so huge because it presented itself as a “whip party” that would keep the PvdA on a leftist course instead of its Purple-inspired centrist one.

The PvdA is not going to make the same mistake again, so when SP leader Roemer proposed talks about a broad left-wing alliance, Cohen reacted positively. Still, in my heart of hearts I do not believe the PvdA will actually follow up on this. If it becomes the largest party, a coalition with the CDA is more likely, both seat-wise and because the social-democrats would simply love to put the christian-democrats in place by forcing them to serve under a PvdA prime minister. And if they refuse, there’s always Purple.

D66 is even less likely to accede to a left-wing coalition. If all goes well the Democrats will end up in the same position as in 1994: the party without whom a coalition is impossible, and whose desires therefore play a disproportionate role. Whether it will go for centre-left or Purple is unclear, but the left-wing option is the least likely one. D66 is reaching for the centre, and becoming the right-most party in a left-wing coalition does not fit into that strategy.

All in all I do not believe in a left-wing coalition.

<— Wilders turns on headscarves | Know your coalitions — Right —>

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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