good poll (27 seats; largest party), Wilders reacted that the election race is between him and Bos (PvdA).
This is an extremely interesting spin. Traditionally, such remarks come from CDA or PvdA when they aim to make the elections a prime-minister race. Purpose is to cast the elections as a race between the leaders of the two largest parties: who of them will become prime minister? Thus both CDA and PvdA draw more voters from the other parties in their own blocks.
However, another party declaring such a race is totally unusual; in fact I think it has never happened before. Obviously, Wilders wants to steal Balkenende’s role as the leader of the right block, and thus suck CDA and VVD dry.
While I don’t think he can succeed to the extent the CDA could (some right-wing voters don’t like Wilders for beans, while almost all can picture themselves voting CDA), this might win Wilders a few extra seats from the VVD. Unfortunately the VVD is his most likely ally, so the net result will be 0 for the right block.
The left block may eventually profit more from this than the right block by drawing some centrist voters from right to left.
In any case, one of my major questions right now is whether this new dynamic continues. It would change the nature of the elections once more.
(Source: Algemeen Dagblad)
  • Meanwhile Bos has opened a traditional prime-minister race by declaring that he feels Balkenende doesn’t function too well as prime minister, but simultaneously saying a PvdA+CDA coalition may well be necessary after the elections. Right now Bos doesn’t want to think about it too much — he compares it to not seeing a girl you just broke up with for a while.
    This is a traditional attack along traditional vectors, and Wilders’s declaration is not mentioned. Bos would be wise to leave the initiative to Wilders for a while; if there’s right-wing infighting between Wilders and Balkenende, Bos will profit.
    (Source: Trouw | Volkskrant)
  • Former integration and immigration minister Van der Laan (PvdA) also stated the PvdA might well combine with CDA again, if the good of the country demands it.
    This is what voters want to hear. Lately there’s been quite a bit of criticism of the inflexible way parties started to exclude each other, and the two largest parties in the country are definitely supposed to keep their options open. Refusing each other would be supreme Bad Taste. Since the PvdA has gone slightly farther in excluding the CDA than vice versa, the PvdA is now making amends.
    (Source: Telegraaf | Volkskrant | NRC | Algemeen Dagblad)
  • And 25% of CDA voters would prefer to be rid of Balkenende. This is not good when you’re heading into complicated elections with not only the traditional enemy on the left, but also a brand new one on the right.
    (Source: Algemeen Dagblad)
  • Still, the CDA parliamentary fraction supports Balkenende. For what it’s worth, parliamentary leader Van Geel states that “those who walked away” (the PvdA, in other words), try to milk anti-politics sentiment.
    (Source: Trouw)
  • The CDA ministers, too, support Balkenende.
    (Source: Volkskrant)
  • Despite all this, his succession continues to be debated, although sources within the CDA tend to agree that there’s no better candidate right now. That says more about the CDA than about Balkenende, as far as I’m concerned.
    The general expectation is that if Balkenende is still party leader at the end of next week, he’ll lead the party in the elections.
    (Source: Volkskrant)
  • Newly-anointed SP party leader Roemer, still a complete unknown to the public at large, is clearly preparing to lead the party for a while. He has stated he wants to lead the SP in the elections, and chances are he’ll succeed.
    Roemer is of course completely unknown, and that may be a problem in the short run. He’s expected to pop up in decidedly odd places, including TV shows. In 2006 Rutte was in the same position, when he was elected VVD party leader scant months before the elections,
    It seems he’s a moderate; although under his leadership the SP will continue to oppose the higher pension age (67 instead of 65), this programme point will remain negotiable. (Compare to Wilders, who has made this a non-negotiable point.)
    Roemer will be one of the many unfolding stories in this campaign.
    (Source: Telegraaf | NRC)
  • In Almere Wilders’s PVV became the largest party, which of course gives him ample ammunition for his national bid in June.
    Still, because the PVV has become the largest party it’s required to take the initiative for the formation of a city government. The PVV has made the first proper step by inviting all parties, including second-largest archenemy PvdA, to talks.
    (Source: Volkskrant)
  • People are starting to wonder, however, whether the PVV is truly interested in governing, or whether it’s mostly interested in blaming the other parties, especially the PvdA, for refusing to deal with it.
    The PVV was absent from city hall when the results came in, and political observers point to the fact that the party’s unnegotiable points, notably the ban on Islamic headdresses in public buildings, are almost comically unacceptable for all other parties.
    Besides, the situation is genuinely complicated. Even together with natural ally VVD, the PVV would still need two more parties for a majority in the council.
    Therefore there are reasons to assume the PVV wants to break off negotiations in such a way that the other parties, notably the PvdA, will be held responsible.
    This will make Wilders even more popular on the right, but not win too many votes from the left.
    (Source: Telegraaf | Almere Vandaag)
  • The PVV has 9 of the 39 seats, the PvdA 8, the VVD 7. PVV and VVD still need four seats for a majority, D66, GL, and local party Leefbaar Almere each have three seats, SP and CDA 2 each, CU and ToN 1 each. Thus, two of these parties are necessary for a majority, and D66, GL, SP, and CU are likely not interested in aligning with the Wilderites. That brings the list of potential partners down to three: LA, CDA, and ToN. The last one is an unknown quantity, and precedent suggests that the single ToN member will turn out to be unreliable, venal, will break with his party within weeks, or will be totally absent from council, or any combination of these traits.
    So the only really serious coalition is PVV+VVD+LA+CDA.
    Now it turns out that the LA leader has said that “discrimination runs through the PVV’s programme like a brown thread.” Saying this of a red thread is a common expression in Dutch, but the colour change calls up nazi (brownshirts!) overtones.
    The PVV demands apologies from LA, which have been refused. Until further notice LA will not be allowed to participate in negotiations. This is both rather petty, and an extra clue that the PVV is only interested in blowing up negotiations in a spectacular way while blaming the PvdA.
    (Source: Telegraaf | Volkskrant | Almere Vandaag)
  • Political scientist Krouwel, who’s slated as local informer/former to serve as a neutral chairman of negotiations in the difficult times ahead, has stated that he sees no serious obstacles to a PVV+PvdA coalition. (They’d need either the VVD or one three-seater as coalition partner, but that’s feasible.)
    The PvdA reacted surprised, pointing at serious difference between the party programmes, while the PVV reacted outraged and stated that because of this Krouwel had disqualified himself as former.
    Polarised parties do not want to hear that the differences aren’t that large.
    (Source: Telegraaf)
  • The situation in Rotterdam is also complex. There PvdA and Leefbaar Rotterdam, a party that Pim Fortuyn founded, each won 14 seats, with the PvdA getting about 650 votes more. Thus the PvdA will be allowed to initiate negotiations.
    LR leader Pastors declared that he’d love to form a coalition with the PvdA, but the social-democrats haven’t forgotten the period between 2002 and 2006, when LR forced them into the opposition for the first time since the 1920s or so, and have rejected his overtures.
    Meanwhile D66 has chosen the side of LR. D66 might hold the balance in the coalition negotiations, so it’s important right now. Still, the PvdA has repeated its rejection.
    This is not wise. It might push LR into the Wilders camp, while previously it was completely independent (though somewhat ideologically related). If that happens Wilders will milk this for all that it’s worth. Even if LR remains independent Wilders might also milk the incident for all that it’s worth.
    (Source: Trouw | Algemeen Dagblad)
  • ">

    Developments; 7 March

    More details about several unfolding political stories: the prime-minister race, Balkenende’s continuing stability problems, a PvdA+CDA coalition, new SP party leader Roemer, and the local government negotiations in Almere and Rotterdam.

    <— Wilders in UK | Party profile — SP —>

    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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