On Sunday 6 June I’ll leave for a holiday in Venice, from which I’ll return on Sunday 13 June. I will take my laptop and a brand-new dongle, so in theory I’ll have Internet access and will follow Dutch politics a bit. Before I leave I’ll give you an update on the likely coalition negotiations and the CDA leadership struggle.
I’m afraid you shouldn’t expect too many posts next week, which is a pity, but not disastrous. After all, the coalition negotiations will remain exciting for at least two or three weeks after the elections, and I’ll definitely comment on them.
While in Venice I’ll concentrate on the polls and the Wednesday night election results, and I’ll post those as soon as possible. I will probably ignore most other topics, as I have done for the past few days (apologies for that, but I was just too busy, and when my work stopped I found myself in the nicest weather we’re likely to get for the rest of the year, so I wasn’t too keen on writing a lot).
A quick coalition negotiation prediction that assumes the current polls predict the outcome relatively correctly:
So that’s my prediction — barring huge shifts during the elections. Let’s see whether I’m right.
Finally some old news about the CDA leadership struggle.
On Monday night foreign minister Verhagen visited health minister Klink. Verhagen, it is said, looked around nervously when he quickly entered the health ministry. What the two CDA ministers discussed is unknown, but observers quickly came to a theory that fits the slightly suspenseful setting.
The CDA is preparing for the post-Balkenende era. If, as seems exceedingly likely, the CDA finishes not first, not even second, but third next Wednesday, Balkenende is toast, and the CDA urgently needs a new leader. This, observers theorise, was the topic discussed by Verhagen, the highest-ranking catholic, and the rapidly rising star on the protestant side, Klink.
Well-informed CDA insiders say that the plan is that Klink becomes party leader and parliamentary leader, and that Verhagen will lead the formation negotiations and will become vice-prime minister.
If that is true it would be something new. Until now the CDA has had one party leader, who operated as prime minister from government. The parliamentary leader was distinctly second in rank, although he remained in the picture as a potential crown prince.
No more, apparently. If the CDA is willing to break with tradition in such a way, there must be a deep rift within the party, possibly fueled by a vicious infight between catholics and protestants.
It’s the catholics’ turn to nominate the party leader, but their candidate Verhagen was very efficiently tarred by PvdA leader Bos during the fall of government. Besides, the CDA has good cause to fear the pull of orthodox-protestant CU on protestant voters, and the most obvious defense is a protestant party leader.
On the whole I’d say that the alleged power share between Verhagen and Klink will be a temporary solution at best. The VVD tried something similar in 1986-1989, when they were the junior partner in the Lubbers II government, and failed spectacularly, caused the fall of government, disastrous elections, and Lubbers’s switch to the PvdA.
So I don’t think this scenario is one for the ages. Somewhere in the next two years or so there will be a short, sharp fight, and either contender or both could be pushed out of the boat and decide to leave politics.
The problem is, this is only a theory. This analysis is perfectly sensible and logical as far as it goes, but it could be completely wrong. We just don’t know. CDA infights are notoriously difficult to follow, and although parts of the fights are usually very public, what happens behind the screens is totally unknown. And it’s in that secret process that the next party leader is appointed.
Lack of facts make these conspiratorial theories necessary, especially when it comes to the CDA. The other parties are not exactly examples of openness and transparency, but the CDA has made mussel-like closedness into a fine art.
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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.