50Plus and the retirement age

Yesterday 50Plus, the party for the angry elderly, announced what is called a “break point” — a declaration of an absolute demand in the coming coalition negotiations. Other parties will have to accede to the demand, or the party in question will refuse to support a coalition.

50Plus’s break point is one we might expect, and which its voter base loves: return the retirement age to 65. In fact, the threat of increasing the retirement age, and the subsequent acceptance of this in parliament, was one of the main causes of 50Plus’s founding and of its entry into parliament in 2012. So far, we see nothing unexpected.

What’s also expected is that by announcing this break point 50Plus effectively removed itself from consideration in the upcoming coalition negotiations. It know full well the large parties, with the exception of PVV and SP, want to keep slowly raising the retirement age at the current rate of 3-4 months per year. In 2021 it will reach 67 years, and it is likely to rise beyond that, and currently it’s unclear when it will stop.

The other parties are unlikely to change their minds, and if 50Plus maintains its stance as well, it will remain in the opposition.

The more interesting result of 50Plus’s decision is that the chances of Wilders becoming prime minister have dropped to 0 as well.

Currently the three large right-wing parties, PVV, VVD, and CDA, do not have a majority in the polls — and we already saw the VVD excluding the PVV. Even if the VVD changed its stance, and the CDA decided to try governing with the populists one more time, and ultra-orthodox SGP agreed to support the coalition, it might have a majority in parliament ... but not in the Senate. Two more senators are required for that, and 50Plus was just about the only candidate for delivering these votes.

No more. VVD and CDA will insist on keeping the retirement age at its current, and increasing, level — the two parties invested too much in this political hot-button issue. Therefore they will not be negotiating with 50Plus, and therefore Wilders will not become prime minister.

Of course 50Plus could change its mind, but to the angry elderly this is the most fundamental issue in current politics, and 50Plus leader Krol would not be able to explain a change of heart to his voters.

So Krol will stand on the sidelines in the coalition negotiations — and force Wilders to do the same. Thank you, sir.

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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.

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