Small fry; 4/12
Dutch politics remain in flux, especially in the margins.
- Currently FvD members are voting on Baudet’s position. Will he remain party leader, or will he have to leave? My bet is on the former.
- An FvD member of the provincial States was dismissed from the party when he opposed the member vote. More in general, a lot of provincial and local councillors have their doubts about the entire process — formally because the party bylaws do not allow for a referendum like this, but the real reason is that they expect Baudet to win. Journalist Chris Aalbers is keeping track of the position of all elected FvD officials.
- Due to all the FvD news we would almost forget the PvdT, the merger party of former FvD honcho Otten, former 50Plus leader Henk Krol, and a few more polticians (read the sordid story here and here). Otten has not yet commented on the FvD chaos, but there’s another bit of news of a month ago: Henk Krol had left the party. This is a problem for the PvdT since Krol has charisma while Otten does not.
- Meanwhile Otten is angling for unhappy FvD members, senators, and local and provincial councillors. He hopes they will join the PvdT. Unfortunately, even if they do this party will not win any seats in March.
- Speaking of 50Plus, it had its own leadership elections that became a chaos. Where in the FvD drama many of the protagonists were at least generally known, in 50Plus it was a bunch of unknowns fighting one another. The emtire current parliamentary fraction will be replaced by others, that much is certain. In general, the former mid-level PvdA, VVD, and CDA politicians who form the backbone of the elected officials have strengthened their grip on the party. Whether that’s a recipe for electoral success remains an open question.
- Henk Krol, 50Plus’s former party leader, founded a new party, List Henk Krol, LHK. It is, and I quote, a “progressive conservative party.” The brand new party chairman (not Krol) admitted that that appears to be a contradiction, but, he assures us, “it is not.” That’s good to know. Pity he offered no further explanation.
Will LHK do better than 50Plus? Krol has some charisma, but 50Plus is slightly more than Krol alone. Together they’ll get 1 or 2 seats, but I find it hard to predict who these seats will go to.
- There is a new party on the extreme right: Code Oranje (Code Orange), and Peil.nl, which is frequently generous to such tiny parties, gives it 1 seat. CO is a personal vehicle for Richard de Mos, a former PVV MP and councillor in The Hague.
De Mos was PVV MP from 2009 tot 2012. Wilders did not give him a place on the 2012 party list, and as a result De Mos left the party, taking his The Hague seat with him, Subsequently he founded his own local party and was succesful in the 2014 local elections (3 out of 45 seats), and even more so in the 2018 ones (8 seats). Also, in 2018 the local PVV in The Hague went down, and it is likely De Mos, with his local support, played a role in that.
His group entered the local coalition and he became an alderman. In 2019 his home and office were searched by the police on suspicion of corruption. He resigned as alderman but sits in the council to this day.
One thing you cannot say about De Mos is that he is a racist: if the allegations of corruption are true, the beneficiaries were mostly local entrepeneurs of Turkish descent. (In exchange for votes from their clientele? Unproven, but quite possible.)
Anyway, one seat in one poll is not enough for De Mos to get into parliament. A rule of thumb that has worked since 1998 is that a new party must win at least one seat in all the polls if it is to survive the elections, and CO does not (yet) fulfill that requirement.
- The FvD’s trouble started with its youth organisation. Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, the SP has run into similar problems. Two board members of the SP youth organisation are reported to have ties to two communist groups and want to reform the SP from the ground up. The SP has always been a strongly centralised party, and communist agitation, up to and including arming the working class, is not part of the party leadership’s plans. Thus the two board members were dismissed from the SP, and since they’re not members any more they cannot lead the youth organisation either.
This problem has been simmering for quite a while, and retained a low profile due to the FvD story. Now, however, it’s coming to the forefront.
Expectation: the SP leadership will win, the dissidents will form a separate group, and nothing will be heard from them ever again. Still, this is bad for the SP, which is not doing great in the polls anyway.
- To the surprise of no one prime minister Rutte will once again lead the VVD list. Where up until about a year ago he hesitated, and current parliamentary leader Dijkhoff was named most frequently as his successor, about a year ago Rutte said that Dijkhoff “would not necessarily” be his successor. Translation: Rutte didn’t want a crown prince who might plant a dagger in his back. Dijkhoff recently announced he’ll be leaving politics after the elections, so Rutte is sole ruler of the VVD.
- Although DENK has officially ended its internal party rows by electing current MP Azarkan as party leader, it’s still unclear whether the party will truly recover. The problem is that Azarkan is of Moroccan descent, while DENK was originally founded as a mostly-Turkish party. Will supporters of Turkish descent support Azarkan as loyally as they supported the two Turkish-descent founders?
- Speaking of DENK, it was the only party to support a petition to make offending the prophet Mohammed a crime. Created by a Dutch imam in the aftermath of the beheading of a French teacher, all political parties rejected the proposal with more (Wilders) or less (most others) vehemence. Except for DENK, and party leader Azarkan had to face the brunt of parliament's disapproval. Still, his actions will likely go over well with his intended voters. Also it is interesting to note that the petition gathered only 120.000 signatures, while there are man more muslims in the Netherlands (something around 500.000?).
- The small christian parties opposed the petition. Still, they have their own problems along the same lines. Recently education minister Slob (CU) defended a practice common among orthodox protestant schools, where parents are asked to sign a declaration that marriage is for one man and one woman — effectively rejecting homosexuality. Slob hoped to help these schools, but managed to do the opposite.
Article 23 of the constitution protects the right of citizens to start schools on religious (or philosophical) grounds, which are guaranteed equal treatment with neutral schools. Christian schools, both catholic and protestant, benefit hugely from article 23, since in practice it gives these schools as much money as neutral schools, even if they don’t need it. The traditional example is that if a neutral school needs some extra money to repair its windows, the christian schools get the same amount, even though they don’t need it. The reverse is not true.
The non-christian parties, both left and right, are generally in favour of rewriting this article. Normally this is vetoed by CDA, CU, and SGP, and that is usually enough to keep the topic firmly off the agenda. The current coalition will not change article 23, since that would mean CDA and CU leaving the coalition, and Rutte cannot afford that. Still, after the elections there might be a coaltiion without the christian parties...
Anyway, Slob may have done the exact opposite of what he intended: started the downfall of article 23. Then again, nothing happened during the Purple governments either, or during Rutte II, neither of which included christian parties.
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| Asscher resigns as PvdA leader —>
This is the political blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer,
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