1989 Generation Initiative

Dutch parties finally form a government –
What do 89ers think about it?

On March 15, 208 days ago, the Dutch went to the polls – an election perceived as a major milestone of the European election year. The last week finally brought a coalition agreement. Back then three 89ers shared their political experience, thoughts on populism and the Dutch parties with us. But what do they think today about political parties failing to build a coalition for more than 200 days, breaking a record from 1977?

“Together they have the smallest possible majority in the parliament which will be a risk for the stability of this government”

In March, elections resulted into a fragmented parliament with 13 parties winning seats. Minister-President Mark Rutte’s liberal-centre right Party for Freedom and Democracy (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie – VVD) became strongest party, followed by Geert Wilders’ populist Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid – PVV). GroenLinks (GreenLeft) and liberal D66 came in third, with gains especially in urban areas, while the Social democrats (Partij van de Arbeid – PvdA) recorded a historic loss.

Back in March, Denise, a supporter of the Prime-Minister Rutte then, already underlined the system’s need for a coalition and hence, the necessity of compromising on ideas. All three of the interviewees thought it rather unlikely that Geert Wilders would be part of the government. Maarten predicted the other parties could easily shortcut him if they wanted to – and they were willing to do so, excluding forming a government with him and his PVV. So, coalition talks were deemed to be difficult with at least 4 parties needing to agree on terms.

“Government is formed through a coalition of the liberal VVD, the Christian democratic CDA and CU parties, and the centrist D66. Together they have the smallest possible majority in the parliament, 76 out of 150 seats, which will be a risk for the stability of this government in the future”, Maarten warns. The resulsts were interpreted as “good populism” defeats “bad populism” and Danique feels that “this new coalition is a very centre-right one. They claim to be the greenest cabinet ever in Dutch history. However although there are some green measures in there, the plans could be much greener. In my opinion this is not a green cabinet.”

A coalition of compromises

Programme-wise, the new four-party coalition wants tax cuts, invest in infrastructure (especially in bicycle infrastructure) and initiated a number of proposals to decrease the emissions of greenhouse gasses. The new government aims to expand sustainable energy sources while closing coal-fired power plants, plans to introduce environmental zones according to the German model, and wants cars to be emission-free by 2030. On the European level, a sustainable agricultural policy will be advocated for. Maarten notes: “ Surprisingly since there are two Christian parties in this coalition, after decriminalizing (not legalizing) soft drugs in the 1970’s, this coalition has also agreed to allow experiments with legalized weed production.”
Danique is not happy about the new government’s plans: “I also think that because of the plans of this coalition, there will be less equality, as the rich will get more advantages from these plans. Also the taxes on for example groceries will go up, but taxes for multinationals will go down.” Maarten concluded: “For students not much will change, the study allowance will not return. Thanks to the positive economic forecast, the outlook for most people seems to be quite positive. I am quite interested how this coalition will work out.”The new government rejects Eurobonds, hence a debt union and stresses budgetary discipline of Eurozone member states. It demands to link support to indebted members to strict economic reforms.
The first round of coalition talks including GroenLinks failed, because of unbridgeable differences over migration policy. The new coalition now takes a harder stance on the sensitive topic of migration and integration, and agreed to step up on already existing regulations. Integration of newcomers should be supported better, by providing language and citizenship courses and setting up a voluntary work scheme. However, asylum seekers with a negative result of their application, should be deported more quickly. The government plans to work more closely with countries of origin.Nevertheless, the Netherlands still will take part in the EU’s relocation scheme of refugees. Danique comments on the future of the new coalition: “However this was probably the best option for a coalition, as other parties had problems forming a coalition.”

Read the Dutch reporting on the new government (Rutte-III).



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