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Elections in the Netherlands (again)

 
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 03:29 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Not the topic here, but in the football match, Huntelaar scored the 2:0 in the 73. min - he's not at all related to me Wink
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 03:56 pm
Looks like the PVV will be the big winner in Almere: 24% in the moment, followed by the PvdA (17%) and the VVD with 14%.

In Den Haag, the PvdA (22%) is leading, followed by the PVV (18.5%). (30% of votes counted.)
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Mar, 2010 01:18 am
In Almere, the Wilder's PVV got nine seats (21.6%) , one more than the PvdA (17.6%).39 seats in the town council.

In Den Haag the PVV got eight out of 45 seats and is the second strongest party behind the PvdA.

Results from all Netherlands as published 08:00 h

http://i50.tinypic.com/2qk30hf.jpg
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Mar, 2010 01:39 am
@nimh,
Quote:
2006 (2003)

Socialists 26 +17

Green Left 7 - 1

Labour 32 -10

Party for the Animals 2 + 2

Democrats66 3 - 3

Christian Union 6 + 3

Christian-Democrats 41 - 3

VVD (Rightwing Liberals) 22 - 6

State Reformed Party 2 n.c.

List Pim Fortuyn 0 - 8

Party of Freedom (Geert Wilders) 9 + 9


As a complete outsider tying to make sense, nimh, what's interesting to me is the sheer number of contenders. I'm used to two major parties and "other minorities". Walter's last post, showing how the total vote has been distributed, is like nothing I've ever seen in my own country. Fascinating, but hard to fully comprehend the situation.

It is rather exciting to me that voters have so much choice.

I wish I understood better, how, under such circumstances, a government is actually formed & what it actually stands for. (Sorry, if that sounds rather dumb.)
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Mar, 2010 02:06 am
@msolga,
msolga wrote:

It is rather exciting to me that voters have so much choice.


Here, in Germany, we've at local elections in my town up to ten parties - six in the council.

The most parties to choose from are with the elections for the EU-parliament - more than 30, if I remember correctly.
(Not all get votes everywhere - I remember that we've had in the last general election here in my village 15 parties which got votes.)
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Mar, 2010 03:19 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Yes, we often get quite a number of parties here (in Oz), too, Walter.
But what's different in the Netherlands distribution of votes is the number of parties which received quite a reasonable share of the vote. Our alternatives to the main two parties are definitely "also rans" (apart from 3rd parties running for senate (upper house) seats, like the democrats in the past & the Greens now.) So the two main parties pretty much dominate the show.

This is interesting & very different!
nimh
 
  3  
Reply Thu 4 Mar, 2010 11:50 am
@msolga,
Yes, it's hard to get used to for us too.

We've always had many parties -- when I grew up, there were also some 10 parties in the national parliament, which is where Holland always already differed from Germany with its 5% election threshold. But back then there were 3-4 big parties, and a slew of tiny ones catering for small niches like pacifist socialists or different strands of the Dutch reformed church.

Now the whole scene has just completely fragmented. On the one hand it's cool to have such choice - there's something for all of us. It's certainly not boring, either - voter shifts from one election to the next have become fairly huge compared to the standards in our part of Europe.

On the other hand the country's on the verge of becoming ungovernable. If elections were held today and the national opinion polls are right, it would not be possible to create a majority government without at least four parties. And any combination I can think of which includes four parties and together adds up to a majority involves some combination of two parties that really can not stomach at each other. Meaning that the government would likely not last long.

Hell, in the last eight years we've now had three governments collapse early - we're getting into Italian territory.

I am guessing there will be some consolidation as the election campaign heats up, but still the 2006 elections set a new threshold of fragmentation that the Dutch voters are likely to still outdo this time.

To see how this phenomenon has developed over the past twenty years, you should check this set of charts I made last month, comparing each election since 1986 and the state of the polls when I made them. As you scroll from left to right, from 1986 to 1994 and 2002 and 2006 and last month's polls, you see the piecharts becoming ever more divided in small and mid-sized slices, with no one party sticking out anymore.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Mar, 2010 12:13 pm
@nimh,
nimh wrote:
..., which is where Holland always already differed from Germany with its 5% election threshold.


The 5% threshold is only in EU-, federal and state elections. ( Excluded are the parties of the national minorities, which are as far as I remember the South Schleswig Voter Federation, the Serbska Ludowa Strona (Wendish People's Party) and the The Friesen)

In local election, in most if not all states we don't have a threshold. Thus, we've got local councils with e.g. three (or even more) different "voter groups" (like in our district's council) besides the four or five 'traditional' parties. (In in some local councils, you find additionally 'independent' councillors who neith
er belong to a party nor to any a group.)
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Mar, 2010 12:47 pm
Coming back to yesterday's elections, I've noticed that most Netherland papers and all international media are focusing on the Freedom Party's (PVV) success in two councils.

In Utrecht and Nijmegen, the Green-Left party (GroenLinks) got enough votes to become the largest party.

And the D66 party made the biggest gains nationwide, now being the largest the largest party in Leiden, Haarlem, and Hilversum.

Not to forget that PvdA did quite well ... at least when you look at what was said they would loose Wink
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 01:37 am
@nimh,
Quote:
Now the whole scene has just completely fragmented. On the one hand it's cool to have such choice - there's something for all of us. It's certainly not boring, either - voter shifts from one election to the next have become fairly huge compared to the standards in our part of Europe.

On the other hand the country's on the verge of becoming ungovernable. If elections were held today and the national opinion polls are right, it would not be possible to create a majority government without at least four parties. And any combination I can think of which includes four parties and together adds up to a majority involves some combination of two parties that really can not stomach at each other. Meaning that the government would likely not last long.

Hell, in the last eight years we've now had three governments collapse early - we're getting into Italian territory.


I hear you, nimh.

Election after election with flimsy "coalition" governments. Rocky & wobbly, to say the least.

(Not exactly a recipe for stability in government, I totally agree. But I've got to kinda to admire the the folk of the the Netherlands, for holding fast to their ideals & adversity in politics. And for placing their votes where their political hearts lie. Even though it is certainly inconvenient in the grander scheme of things. Smile )

So where do the election results actually lead the Netherlands in broad political political terms?
What does this result mean (if it's at all clear) in what direction the majority (voting for a variety of parties) are actually wanting to happen?
Is that too hard to answer? Sorry, don't try if it is.

Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 02:12 am
@msolga,
msolga wrote:

Election after election with flimsy "coalition" governments. Rocky & wobbly, to say the least.


I think that such an opinion is made by someone who never experienced coalitions ... and is living in a country with a different election system than proportional representation Wink

We here in Germany are used to coalition governments since the emeperor lost the right to choose his ministers ... and have had them all times since 1949 (besides for one year, in 1960):
http://i48.tinypic.com/241p5aq.jpg

If I remember correctly, it has been very similar in the Netherlands.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 02:31 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Quote:
I think that such an opinion is made by someone who never experienced coalitions ... and is living in a country with a different election system than proportional representation. Wink


I thought I was simply reflecting what nimh had said, Walter.

In any case, I certainly did not mean to sound critical. I'm rather intrigued, actually.

Just trying, as an outsider, to get some sort of understanding of how things might work in such situations. Please pardon my ignorance. But that is why I'm asking the questions I'm asking.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 02:36 am
@msolga,
Things might work. Or not.

For instance, I'd thought that the conservative/social-democrat coalition here would survive one year. They did.
But our new centre-right coalition - something both the conservatives as well as the liberals wanted - is ... well, more fighting on party lines than actually governing.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 02:41 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Quote:
Things might work. Or not.


Well, yes .. Wink
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 02:53 am
@msolga,
On second thoughts, please don't worry about these questions.
They are probably not exactly easily answerable, anyway.
I'll do a bit of Googling & BBC news-ing & see what I can find out.
Thanks, anyway.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  3  
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 01:14 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:

msolga wrote:

Election after election with flimsy "coalition" governments. Rocky & wobbly, to say the least.

I think that such an opinion is made by someone who never experienced coalitions ... and is living in a country with a different election system than proportional representation Wink

We here in Germany are used to coalition governments since the emeperor lost the right to choose his ministers ... and have had them all times since 1949 (besides for one year, in 1960)

Yeah but Walter, you are ignoring the important distinction I made earlier, which Msolga competently picked up on. Yeah, sure, Germany has always had coalition governments. Holland too. But what we're seeing now is substantively different.

Every German government back till the 50s either involved a big party governing with the support of a small one (at least if you count the brother parties CDU/CSU as one), or, exceptionally, the two big parties governing together. That's it.

In Holland, I grew up in an era that was the same - 1977 through to 1994 was all like that with the exception of one year.

Since then, however, the increasing shift from the two large parties (Christian-Democrats and Labour) to the smaller ones has come to necessitate three-party coalitions. And if the new elections were held today, you'd need at least four parties to form any majority government.

Again, I can't come up with any combination of four parties that would make for a majority and yet not include two parties that despise each other. That's a degree of ungovernability you just dont have.

In short: not every system that works with coalition governments is the same.

A poll by Maurice de Hond that came out yesterday reflects some public unease about that (but hey, they're the one voting, so it's a problem of their own making). According to the poll, only 18% of respondents expected the next government to last the full four years. 71% agreed with the statement that "our country becomes ever less well governable". 66% agreed that "something drastic needs to happen to make sure the Netherlands can be governed better." And a sizable minority of 36% wanted a national government (i.e. one that would include all the main parties.)

You might still be heading the same way in Germany, of course - as the last German national elections showed as clearly as any so far, you are experiencing at least some of the same trends. The big "people's parties" are hemoraghing [sp?] support as the old institutions that tied people together in big communities have fractures. Niche parties that seem to be organized around a certain social milieu as much as around a political program are on the rise, e.g. the FDP on the right and the Greens on the left. The "red" left has split between mainstream social-democrats and more fundamentalist socialists.

But looking at current polls, the two largest parties in Germany still pool around 60% of the vote, and some 95% of the voters prefer one of a handful of main parties. In Holland, the two best polling parties are down to 35% among them [!], and even if you add up the largest five you still only get to three-quarters of the vote. The fragmentation is of a wholly different level altogether.
nimh
 
  3  
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 01:25 pm
@nimh,
nimh wrote:
And if the new elections were held today, you'd need at least four parties to form any majority government. Again, I can't come up with any combination of four parties that would make for a majority and yet not include two parties that despise each other. That's a degree of ungovernability you just dont have.

I have to annotate this - I was going on the polls I used for my charts last month. Since then, the Labour party has consolidated somewhat after they left the government (from 12% to 17%), and that means that as of now, there is one combination of three parties that would have a majority too. That would be the combination of Labour, Christian-Democrats and the far right Freedom Party. Since the Freedom Party and the Labour Party are obviously sworn enemies, it's only a statistical possibility, though, not a real one.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  3  
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 01:56 pm
@msolga,
msolga wrote:
So where do the election results actually lead the Netherlands in broad political political terms?
What does this result mean (if it's at all clear) in what direction the majority (voting for a variety of parties) are actually wanting to happen?

They don't seem to agree. ;-) I don't think there is a majority for any clear direction, that's really at the bottom of this impasse.

A large minority wants a sharp turn to the right, with a particular focus on immigration and integration. It's a minority that includes the Freedom Party voters, most of the VVD voters, and probably a majority of Christian-Democratic voters.

But there is also a large minority of Christian-Democratic voters, and a smaller minority of VVD voters, that wants nothing to do with Geert Wilders, his far right ilk, and its relentless hammering on Muslims and immigrants.

Vice-versa, Wilders has rhetorically shifted to the left on socio-economic policy, for example sharply rejecting the government proposal to change the retirement age from 65 to 67. That's because he knows his (working class) voters. So there is no clear majority for an economic shift to the right either.

On the other side of the spectrum, talk of a leftwing majority was much in vogue in 2006, in between the municipal elections in spring and the national ones in autumn. But that talk has become illusory now that Labour and especially the Socialists are polling to lose a lot of their support.

That would, normally, leave you with a boring centrist government that the moderate factions of both left and right could live with. But that's what the Netherlands had, the last three years, and that government is now extremely impopular.

Basically, a decent chunk of Dutch voters - say, 20% on the left and 20% on the right - is solidly disappointed with the traditional parties, the establishment, the governmental center of the political landscape. So the Fortuynists, Proud of the Netherlands and the Freedom Party have come up on the right and exchanged each other, while the Socialists, the Green Left and the Animal Rights party are options on the left for those who are disillusioned with business as usual.

That makes the center, where normally coalitions are welded together, very small. To make things more complicated, there is a lot of contention between secular, liberal parties in that center (Democrats and VVD) and christian parties that otherwise occupy the same center ground (Christian-Democrats and Christian Union).

So I guess the message is muddled:

  • Yes, compared to the national elections of 2006 - and especially the municipal ones of that year - these election results signal a clear turn to the right. But not enough of one to create an actual majority for rightwing government.

  • Culturally speaking, you could also hypothesize about a shift from more collectivist parties (Socialists, Labour and Christian-Democrats) to more individualist parties (Green Left, Democrats and VVD), but obviously that's not on a clear left/right axis. (Plus, it's only a partial reversal of the opposite shift in the early and mid-00's).

  • The overwhelming shift over time, the last seven years, which is only further punctuated in these elections, is an atomization into niche parties, with voters both running from the center to the left and right flanks, and from traditional parties in the center to smaller ones.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 02:26 pm
@nimh,
nimh wrote:

[*] The overwhelming shift over time, the last seven years, which is only further punctuated in these elections, is an atomization into niche parties, with voters both running from the center to the left and right flanks, and from traditional parties in the center to smaller ones. [/list]


I do think that we'll come to a similar situation, sooner or later.

We've got this already in many municipalities .... with more than one "free voter group" besides the traditional four larger parties (and the the Left).


On federal/state level we had had such situation in the 20's, and since 'we' didn't want such Weimar-situation again, we got the "5%-hurdle".
But it seems that many voters like groups and parties who are just "against ...." without really having a plane.
The next example for such on (our) state level will be seen in May: the Pirate Party.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 04:03 pm
@nimh,
Thank you for answering my questions, nimh.
The Netherlands political situation is now a lot clearer to this outsider. Smile
A lot to digest there!
Thank you, too, Walter.
0 Replies
 
 

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