Negotiations to watch — Den Haag

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 close off with Den Haag.

PvdA
10 seats
PVV
8 seats
VVD
7 seats
D66
6 seats
GL
3 seats
CDA
3 seats
HSP
2 seats
SP
2 seats
PPS
1 seat
Khoulani
1 seat
PvdD
1 seat
ID
1 seat

In Den Haag Wilders’s PVV became the second-largest party, and that mightily annoyed the PvdA, which, as in all big cities, has ruled the city from times immemorial. Since the PvdA became the largest party it initially wanted to take its right of initiative and form a coalition without even talking to the PVV.

PVV local leader Fritsma, who knew this was going to happen, immediately said the PVV would drive the city “completely nuts.” This remark was very badly received; even Balkenende himself found it necessary to react that this was “unwise.”
(Source: Algemeen Dagblad)

Meanwhile the social-democrats, led by national heavyweight and former parliament chairwoman Van Nieuwenhoven, rejected the PVV outright, and proposed to reinforce the previous PvdA+VVD+GL coalition with D66. However, D66 didn’t (and doesn’t) feel much like serving as padding for the old coalition, and rejected the proposal.

The Democrats combined with the VVD and SP to propose serious PvdA/PVV talks first. According to the PvdA slogan “everybody counts,” and that, so the three parties state, also goes for the 33,000 PVV voters.

A left-wing coalition of PvdA+D66+GL+SP+local HSP would have a bare majority, and SP and HSP opted for that possibility.
(Source: Telegraaf)

Meanwhile the new Den Haag council was formally installed, and among the new members was Wilders himself. Although he was on the list, originally he said he wouldn’t accept his seat in any case, but later he changed his mind. Thus he was sworn in by mayor Van Aartsen.
(Source: Volkskrant)

Incidentally, it was this very same Van Aartsen who as VVD party leader threw Wilders out of the parliamentary fraction over his opposition to Turkey’s EU membership back in 2004. We can’t know for sure, of course, but did Wilders accept his seat so that he could annoy Van Aartsen in the coming four years?

In the new council the other parties asked the PVV to clarify its standpoints. More specifically, they wanted to know which ones were negotiable and which ones weren’t. The PVV refused to reply while the PvdA excluded it from the new coalition.
(Source: Volkskrant | Telegraaf)

Thus the PVV could accuse the PvdA of obstructionism, and at that point in time it had the support of the other parties, who also felt the PvdA was being too haughty. VVD, CDA, and D66 called for an independent informer to lead the negotiations; something that PvdA leader Van Nieuwenhoven initially rejected.
(Source: Volkskrant)

Later, however, aware that the idea had wide support, Van Nieuwenhoven dropped her objection and Staal (D66) was named informer.
(Source: Telegraaf | Nederlands Dagblad)

After a week Staal announced that the PVV will not take part in the coalition. Talks between the four largest parties (PvdA, PVV, VVD, and D66) had shown that the PVV’s ideas about forbidding Islamic headscarves in public buildings was unacceptable to the other parties, and that the PVV had shown no inclination to compromise here.
(Source: Volkskrant | NRC | Algemeen Dagblad)

VVD, PvdA, and D66 all criticised the PVV’s behaviour: this is no way to conduct serious negotiations. When Wilders himself indicated that negotiation was, after all, possible on the subject of headscarves, the three parties rejected his overtures and made it known that they were unhappy with a PVV that said now this, then that.
(Source: Telegraaf | Algemeen Dagblad | Volkskrant | Telegraaf | Trouw)

With that much having become clear, negotiations again focused on a PvdA+VVD+D66+GL coalition; the old one reinforced by D66. As they did earlier, the Democrats objected because they don’t want to serve just as a padding of a PvdA-led coalition. Right now it’s unclear whether they’ve refused the coalition outright or are just playing hard to get.

To be continued.

<— Know your coalitions — Centre-right | New polls —>

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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