02 December 2006

Dutch general elections

The Dutch general elections don't appear to have got much coverage on the UK-oriented blogs, but PT's entries often have a bit more of an international slant, so I thought I'd give it a go.

The Netherlands had a coalition government headed by Jan Peter Balkenende (oft mocked in the press due to his resemblance to Harry Potter) of the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDA). They were in with a couple of liberal parties: the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and Democrats 66 (D66). D66 pulled out of the coalition, which precipitated a general election following a short period of CDA-VVD minority government.

Balkenende survived the election well, losing only 3 seats in the more powerful Second Chamber (equivalent to the Commons) and ending up with 41 (out of a total of 150).

The other old coalition partners didn't fare so well: VVD went from 28 to 22 and D66 were halved: 6 to 3.

Without a doubt, the biggest winners were the Socialist Party (SP), which went from 9 to 25. The SP are a 'real' left-wing party, the centre-left one being the Labour Party (PvdA), who took a bit of a kicking and dropped 9 to 33.

The other big winners were the right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV), who went from 0 to 9 seats.

Here are the results in full:

Party (Party Code) / Seats (change)
Christian Democrats (CDA) / 41 (-3)
Labour (PvdA) / 33 (-9)
Socialist (SP) / 25 (+16)
Freedom and Democracy (VVD) / 22 (-6)
Freedom (PVV) / 9 (+9)
GreenLeft (GL) / 7 (-1)
Christian Union (CU) / 6 (+3)
Democrats 66 (D66) / 3 (-3)
Animals (PvdD) / 2 (+2)
Reformed (SGP) / 2 (0)

(And yes, there really is an animal rights party with two seats now, the first time I believe it's happened in Europe.)

So what are the Dutch electorate up to? It seems that Balkenende wasn't blamed for the collapse of the coalition; D66, who walked out, are seen as the culprits. Other than that, things seem to have got a bit more polarised, with both left- and right-wing parties gaining at the expense of centre-left and liberal ones.

To form a government, you need 76 seats. That means at least three parties need to form a coalition. There hasn't been a coalition government without the largest party since about 1982, so it's very likely that the CDA will feature, and Balkenende will be PM again.

So what will the coalition look like? Well, the CDA would ideally want to avoid Labour and the Socialists, so they could go with their old partners, the VVD. This would give them 63, so they'd need to pick up another 13. The VVD wouldn't want to sit with PVV, but teaming up with both GreenLeft and Christian Union would do it. This would give a four-party coalition with a majority of one. This to me seems too likely to fracture, but the only other non-Labour/non-Socialist combos are even worse.

I think that the most likely outcome is a German-style 'grand coalition' of the CDA+Labour (=74), with one other minor party. Any of D66, Animals or Reformed would tip it over 75, but I think all are unlikely. You'd want a more comfortable majority than 76 or 77 in case of rebels. Plus the CDA won't want to team up with coalition-wreckers D66 again (and vice versa probably), Reformed don't do coalitions, and neither the CDA nor Labour's core vote would take them seriously if they went with a load of animal libbos.

Moving up, CU (=80) and GL (=81) are possibles, likely to be preferred by CDA and Labour respectively. However, I'm not sure if Labour would sit with CU if they make an issue of areas such as abortion.

Moving further up, there's no chance Labour would sit with PVV, and the VVD would be needlessly large.

Therefore, my money's on a CDA+Labour+CU/GL coalition, with GL more likely than CU.

Phew! Thoughts?

IMR (not PT)


james higham said...

Thanks for that analysis. I was following it but didn't understand it. Seems pretty unstable over there.

Anonymous said...

What's more interesting are the very strong right-wing policies of the Christian Democrats. Going on the opinion that Islam has "gone too far" in the Netherlands, they not only plan to ban the veil, but also to impose very strong limits on immigration.

Anonymous said...

excellent idea..

Chris Palmer said...

Of note is the fact that British morons in London have started up their own 'Animals Count' party and intend to contest the Welsh Assembly elections.

Anonymous said...

intrigue.. the politics of europe holds..

Praguetory said...

IMR - Thanks for the analysis. In recent times, it appears that the Greens can be fairly pliable partners and so I think your analysis makes sense. Have Labour and CDA ever teamed up before? Are you sure that there isn't too much history/hostility there