Small fry; 18 May
A few political items that happened to catch my eye:
- Recently several parties criticised PvdA and CDA for being vague in their
election programmes. The PvdA has now unveiled additional information on how they
want to save € 10 billion extra in the next years. The social-democrats
propose a whole slew of measures aimed at making middle-income and richer people pay
slightly more for health care and house rents, by curbing the fees of medical
specialists and by economizing on the defense budget. In addition they want to
slightly increase the income over which no tax is paid, so as to help people with
lower incomes. They also want to increase the pension age from 65 to 67, but that
was no surprise.
It remains to be seen whether this is enough for the PvdA’s detractors, but
at least it’s a reply. The CDA has remained silent on these issues, but with
the social-democrats taking this step, the christian-democrats will be forced to
follow pretty quickly if they want to remain relevant.
(Source: NRC |
Algemeen Dagblad |
- A few reactions to this plan have come in: prime minister Balkenende (CDA) criticises the
fact that most PvdA plans talk about 2015 and beyond, and have nothing for the coming
governmental term. The CDA, on the contrary, wishes to make the state budget sane as soon
as possible. (With this kind of criticism the CDA clearly places itself on the right.)
VVD leader Rutte calls the PvdA plans “panicky,” and he might have
a point there; the PvdA has been attacked on the vagueness of its plans recently, and
apparently needs to prove that it can do a decent job of state finances.
D66 leader Pechtold still doesn’t understand where the PvdA wants to find the
money it promises, and says the social-democrats only show plans that cost money instead
of save it.
- In an interview CU party leader Rouvoet attacks the CDA, this time for converting to
the VVD and an unabashed right-wing stance too easily. This is understandable: the CU
wants to draw CDA voters who are both active christians and slightly to the left of the
centre, and a bit of VVD-bashing does wonders in that respect.
Research was quoted which
showed that 70% of the CU voters want to enter a new government coalition, and 48%
even think the CU might do without big christian brother CDA. That last number, especially,
surprised me, and Rouvoet himself was much more cautious when asked about his coalition
preferences. Still, he didn’t even exclude D66, the polar opposite of the christian
Still, Rouvoet thought a coalition with the CDA most logical, but also stated that
10 CU seats would help pro-life/christian values more than 35 CDA seats. He might
be right there.
On the other hand he defends himself against criticism from the SGP, which feels that
the CU forgot about its anti-abortion stance too easily when the lure of power
came into play. Rouvoet stated the CU wanted to create alternatives to abortion
and euthanasia, so that the problems would disappear more or less by themselves.
- Research has shown that most political parties seem much more right-wing in the
media than according to their programmes. This is mainly due to all parties, from
left to right, stressing the need for deficit reduction; traditionally a right-wing
theme. Only the CDA appears more left-wing than its programme is, while the research
found no difference with the CU.
The research does not mention this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the moderately-strict
stance against immigration that all parties profess also plays a role. This, too,
is a traditional right-wing theme that’s being picked up by the left.
Since most voters make their decisions based on general media coverage, and not
on detailed discussion of the party programmes, the effect may have some impact
on the election results. (One would think they could actually lead to a more
left wing result, since voters would confuse left-wing parties for right-wing
(Source: Nederlands Dagblad |
- Former VVD party leader Bolkestein proposes legalising all drugs, both soft and hard. He points
out the obvious pros like less drug-related criminality, state control on drug quality, but leaves
out the state tax that will hit all drugs under this plan.
Besides, the current position of the semi-legal coffeeshops that sell soft drugs will become clearer.
Right now selling soft-drugs through coffeeshops is tolerated (not legal), but distribution
of drugs to the coffeeshops is not. That’s an impossible situation that needs to be solved.
The VVD disagrees with its former leader, by the way; it doesn’t want any legalisation. D66 proposed
legalising soft drugs (marihuana) only.
Actually solving this issue becomes more likely under a Purple government; the christian parties have
always been against any form of legalisation beyond what we already have; and would love to turn
the clock back a bit.
(Source: NRC |
- GL party leader Halsema and SP party leader Roemer call on all other parties to make their coalition
preferences known. I wrote about a similar call by D66 leader Pechtold
before. Both left-wing leaders are
clearer about their preferences than Pechtold was. Halsema opts for a coalition that’s as progressive
as possible, and explicitly counts D66 among the progressive parties. I see this as a veiled answer
to Pechtold’s earlier call: yes, GL wants to cooperate with D66.
As to Roemer, he mainly works from a situation in which the combined left-wing parties have an outright
majority; something the polls don’t show at all. Dream on. But he’s right in a way:
such a situation is the SP’s only hope for getting into the coalition.
Both attack PvdA and CDA for being vague. That’s fast becoming a tradition in this cycle when it comes
to party programmes and coalitions. Who knows, it might even help. But I’d also like to know what the
VVD thinks. Do they prefer the CDA and some third party, or Purple? It’s the VVD’s move now.
<— Jack de Vries resigns
| Know your coalitions — Centre-left —>
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.