The 2006 parliamentary elections in The Netherlands have produced some interesting results. Another centre-right coalition of CDA, VVD and D66 (before the latter blew up that very same coalition, see comments) seems to be off the table and the formation of a new coalition will prove to be very difficult what with the votes spread out more evenly over the main parties. There are now four major contenders instead of three. Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende, who will probably continue to be Prime Minister, will now have to consider forming either a left-leaning coalition or risk an unworkable monster coalition. From The Guardian:
The Netherlands is facing political deadlock after the governing Christian Democrats scraped an unconvincing win in yesterday’s election and parties on the hard left and right performed well enough to impede their ability to form a government. As political leaders braced themselves for weeks of horse-trading to form a coalition, the outgoing finance minister delivered a blunt assessment of the result.
“It’s chaos,” Gerrit Zalm, a member of the Liberal (VVD) party was quoted by Reuters as saying. “The real winner is the only party that actually did not participate, which is the party of the anarchists.”
A summary round-up of the results can be found below the fold.
The Christian Democrats of CDA lost 3 seats compared to 2003 but remain the largest party with 41 seats. The Dutch Labour party PvdA is still the second largest party but lost considerable ground to CDA, going from 42 to 32 seats*.
VVD, the Europe-style liberals, went from 28 to 22 seats, which cost them their third place in the party ranking. The SP (socialists) with the charismatic Jan Marijnissen, took that place with 26 seats* and can rightfully claim to be the big winners of the 2006 parliamentary elections since, in 2003, they only had 9 seats.
Geert Wilders, the anti-immigration man and VVD renegade, is no longer a one-man party. With his new party PvdV-Groep Wilders (party for freedom, group Wilders) he managed to gain 9 seats. He is one of the winners in 2006 but will probably be excluded from the coalition talks since none of the main parties like him. Black sheep, cordon sanitaire, something like that. I think he managed to canvass the Dutch anti-immigration vote at the expense of some of his rivals (see â€œlosersâ€ below).
The green lefties of GroenLinks lost one seat and are now smaller than Geert Wildersâ€™ party. Ouch, that must hurt. But they are still bigger than the Christian party ChristenUnie (6 seats).
Former coalition partner D66 lost half their seats, going from 6 to 3, and seemingly do not have much political leverage left.
And what is left of the bastard offspring of Pim Fortuyn, the LPF, in the Tweede Kamer or House of Representatives? Nothing. Zero seats. The lack of bald-headed charisma finally did them in, I suppose. Or incompetence, or internal rows/division, orâ€¦ whatever.
The new rightwing party EÃ©nNl, literally One Netherlands, even though that does not sound right in English, gained zero seats as well. It was to be expected when your party commander-in-chief published a political pamphlet called Tot uw dienst, a shameless, literal rip-off of Fortuynâ€™s famous line â€œat your serviceâ€.
With 2 seats the PvdD (party for the animals) have written history, since they are the first animal rights party to appear in a European Parliament.
Time constraints prevent me from delving deeper, as usual, but I am sure our Dutch readers and Netherlands watchers, who are closer to all the action than I am, will provide more and better insights in the AFOE comments section.
PS: I would like to thank Dutch weblog Sargasso for providing a handy results table, which I used to write this post, and for their excellent work in keeping track of the many polls prior to the elections.
PS2: I found this article by Doug Saunders in the Canadian Globe and Mail interesting too. One quote:
So while yesterday’s vote saw dramatic gains by the centre-left Labour Party** and the left-wing Socialist Party, this is unlikely to have much impact on immigration policies, even if those parties are able to form a coalition.
There were other indications that the Dutch crisis of citizenship has ebbed. Polls showed that voters were far less concerned with issues of immigration than in any previous election since 2002, when Pim Fortuyn, a gay anti-immigration candidate who seemed poised to become prime minister, was assassinated by an animal-rights activist. That led to four years of intense concern about immigration.
But voters this year said they were more interested in the economy, which has recovered from a slump as a result of Mr. Balkenende’s austerity measures. The left-wing parties pledged to restore spending on social programs as a result of this recovery.
While the Labour Party, now the second-largest party in Parliament after Mr. Balkenende’s Christian Democrats, would grant an amnesty to thousands of refugee claimants, on the whole the left’s policies on immigration are as tough and restrictive as the right’s — indicating a consensus in Dutch society.
**Minor quibble. Personally, I do not really see any dramatic Labour gains, but maybe I missed something. In any case, it is Saunders’ point of view regarding the impact, or lack of impact, of immigration policies that interests me.
PS3: I almost forgot. There was a bit of a scandal when a so-called Pedophile Party was planning to take part in the elections. Guess what. The Dutch really aren’t that “liberal”. The party even failed to qualify for the elections. Apparently, they are now blaming the far right for their demise, once again proving how delusional these people are. Anyway, good riddance (hopefully).
*UPDATE: Nanne has the final results. One SP (Socialist) seat has shifted to PvdA (Labour). SP have 25 seats and PvdA 33.