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Elections in the Netherlands (again)

 
 
realjohnboy
 
  3  
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 03:09 pm
Awesome to see you back, Nimh.
nimh
 
  2  
Reply Fri 4 Jun, 2010 04:36 pm
So it appears I won't actually be able to vote - and this time not through any fault of my own. The good people of the Hague's election bureau for non-residents have apparently bolloxed up - or maybe, more likely, the Hungarian mail. Therefore, to compensate for not being able to actually vote, I will have to up my geek-out online and exercise my civic responsibility through charts.

This time, what set me off was some interesting data from Maurice de Hond's polling agency about voting preferences by income group. To find them back, go to www.peil.nl, and retrieve "Partijvoorkeuren naar inkomen”, 30 May 2010. All I did, really, was to aggregate some of the data and turn them into charts.

First, though, let's summarize.

There will be early elections in the Netherlands next week, on 9 June, after the collapse of the Christian-Democratic/Labour/Christian Union government a couple of months ago.

Judging on the latest polls, the left-wing parties will be losing badly. The Labour Party, which already did very badly four years ago, is set to lose a little further ground still. The Socialist Party, which scored a sensational result in 2006, will now, it seems, fall back to modest levels (although it is enjoying something of a last-minute rally in the polls right now).

http://imgur.com/p54Hk.gif

On the right, the Christian-Democrats of Prime Minister Balkenende are set to lose many votes as well, but the likely gains for other right-wing parties will more than make up for that.

The right-wing liberal VVD, in particular, is the flavour-du-jour, having gradually risen from less than 15% in the polls two to three months ago to close to 25% now. (The VVD is stridently pro-free market, generally secular and culturally liberal - with the exception of its distinct nationalism and anti-immigrant rhetorics.)

The far right Freedom Party of Geert Wilders is also set to make clear gains, though he isn't riding quite as high in the polls as a couple of months ago, when he was polling up to 17%.

Support for the individual parties is very uneven across income groups, however, as you'd expect. (I suppose that the more parties you have and the more fragmented the party landscape is, the more parties end up catering for specific niches, and tend to have a more specific class-based appeal as well.) This is how that worked out in the 2006 elections, and in Maurice de Hond's current polling:

http://imgur.com/Kg8ex.gif

http://imgur.com/VN65l.gif

And this is how the electoral shifts in the chart above play out by income group:

http://imgur.com/GnvSv.gif

The most interesting thing to look at, I think, is the balance between the left as a whole and the right as a whole. Again, just for context: In the olden days, up through the 60s, Dutch voters were reliable, life-long voters of the socialist, liberal, protestant or catholic "pillar" they belonged to, and heeded the words of their priest, trade union or newspaper. Those fierce community ties have long disintegrated. In an increasingly media- and charisma-driven political landscape, support for individual parties has started, since the 90s, to oscillate increasingly wildly. A good or bad debate performance can now make or break a party, and a lot of a party's election result is now about making sure not to 'peak' too early or late.

But most all of the volatility takes place within boarder camps: Labour wins or loses to the Green Left, the Democrats and the Socialists, or vice versa. The right-wing liberals and Christian-Democrats win or lose most of their votes from each other or from the far right. So what is interesting is to see whether these camps overall are at all up or down.

http://imgur.com/nco8f.gif

These charts show how the more narrowly defined left of red and green parties (Labour, Socialists and Greens) suffers losses across the board - but those losses are not evenly spread by income group.

Proportionally speaking, the red/green parties hold up best among low-income voters, among whom their support drops from 55% to 47%. That means they're losing, collectively, about one of seven low-income people who voted for them in 2006 to more centrist or rightwing parties.

Among high-income voters, on the other hand, they're losing about one in five, going from 32% to 26%; and it's among middle class voters that they're suffering the heaviest losses, both in absolute and relative terms, as their support drops from 43% to 32%. One in four middle-class voters who opted for one of the three leftwing parties last time now opts for a center-left or right-wing party.

Taking the center-left parties (D66 and Party for the Animals) into account, the differences by income group in how the left is faring is even more sharply profiled. The Democrats are strong among high-income voters, and appear to absorb most of the Labour/Socialist losses there. The Party for the Animals does best among low-income voters, among whom the 'harder' left wasn't faring too badly in any case. It's among middle-class voters that the Democrats and Animal rights party do not buffer the Labour/Socialist losses.

It's a striking discrepancy. Among high-income and low-income voters, the 'broader' left of Socialists, Greens, Labour, Democrats and Animal Rights voters actually remains fairly stable, going from 36% to 35% and from 58% to 55%, respectively. But among middle-income voters, there is a clear shift from the broader left as a whole to right-wing parties, as support for the left there falls from 46% to 38%.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Jun, 2010 06:17 am
@realjohnboy,
Hey, thanks. I had to delete my post last night and repost it because I had gotten one of the charts wrong, so that's why my post now comes after your kind words - well, plus you're good in looking into the future of course ;-)
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Jun, 2010 05:28 pm
@nimh,
I was wondering how my post got ahead of yours.
After you wandered off, the few of us A2K political junkies followed the elections in the UK, some stuff in Germany and even Japan. We are studying up on Australia, even though that may not come for awhile.
I am working the U.S. elections on November 2, focusing for the most part on the Senate. A small number of A2Kers are following that thread.
I will have to read through your analysis of the Netherlands.
Ta.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 11:55 am
According to Spiegel-online...
Quote:
Dutch demagogues want to resist intolerant Muslims in the name of traditional Dutch liberty -- while denouncing traditional Dutch tolerance as elitist propaganda. This paradox may not survive.


Generally, I think, that the 'Spiegel article' gives a rather good analysis, at least to my experiences (I've been a couple of times in the Netherlands recently and talked with a couple Dutch about the elections. But my experiences are limited, not only due to my litttle knowledge of Dutch but I certainly have talked only to ... well, not a representative mixture of people.)

But this is important when looking at the Dutch right, in my opinion:
Spiegel wrote:

The far right in France, Austria, Belgium, Italy or Germany is associated with a tradition of fascism or Nazism. There is a direct line between the Action Francaise and Le Pen, or Mussolini and various far right parties in Italy. Holland had a National Socialist movement in the 1930s, to be sure, but the anti-Islamic demagogues of today have little in common with the prewar blackshirts. Fortuyn was once a socialist, who took up an anti-Muslim agenda because he saw Islam as a threat to gay rights and other cherished fruits of the social revolution in the 1960s. As he once famously put it: "I don't see why we should fight for gay rights and female emancipation all over again."

He is not the only person to talk like this. Quite a few former leftists have joined the hysterical chorus about an impending "Eurabia." In Holland, many leftists who came of age in the 1960s grew up in conservative, often religious families. Their rebellion was often as zealous as the institutions they rebelled against. The idea that religion is once again a serious factor in Dutch society, this time in the shape of Islam, fills them with rage.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 04:57 pm
The three national Dutch pollsters today all had their final polls out before tomorrow's elections, so it's a good time for a final graphical update.

These charts show the development of the election polls over time since last February - using averages of what the three pollsters were showing each week (and in these final moments, every couple of days). They show the polling for, first, the parties individually, and then, aggregates for all leftwing parties, all rightwing parties, etc.:

http://i.imgur.com/QZPMj.gif
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  3  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 07:33 pm
Someone on Reddit asked: "what is the stance of the [Dutch] parties towards expanding the EU, namely Croatia?"

Good question, so I looked it up. And I thought I might as well cross-post the info here (as well as on the EU thread):

Quote:
OK, so I'm looking at the websites of the different parties, and seeing what I can find on Croatian accession to the EU. Interesting exercise, actually.

  • The Socialist Party (SP) website emphasizes that EU accession has taken place "too quickly and too carelessly". It notes that the party was against the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, and that most countries that have been given a prospect of EU membership - and it mentions Iceland, Turkey, Macedonia and "the Western Balkans" here - still "have a long way to go". Croatia, however, seems to be OK: "The accession requirements, the so-called Copenhagen criteria, have to be upheld strictly. With the exception of Croatia, the SP therefore does not see any new member states join the EU in the upcoming years." The party does demand a referendum before any new country is accepted, however.

  • The Green Left uses distinctly different language. EU expansion, the party's website starts off, "increases security in Europe. The EU is after all a zone of peace and prosperity" - although, it continues with a frown, it's true that there's really quite a lot of countries wanting to become members now. However, it sternly reminds the reader, "promises create debts", as a Dutch saying goes: "The EU can not leave he Western Balkans in the lurch, but must help these countries with the intensive reforms that are needed for EU accession." In practice, the path that the Green Left charts forward isn't actually all that different, however: "For most countries, this [process] will, even in the most favourable scenario, still last many years." The party believes that Turkey and Croatia "can join the EU as soon as they meet the criteria. Especially in the case of Turkey this will still last a long time. [..] Croatia is well underway to membership, but still has to push back corruption more."

  • The Labour Party (PvdA) does not address the issue of EU expansion in general in its main "points of view" pages. Instead, it has a page only about the accession of Turkey. "A democratic, safe, stable and Europe-oriented Turkey constitutes an important interest of the EU," the page starts off, pointing out that as such a country, Turkey could become "an important fundament for durable peace and security in Europe." However, "the EU accession criteria are strict," and in light of existing deficiencies on human rights, the rule of law and democracy, there is currently "absolutely no prospect of establishing an accession date for Turkey."

  • A boo to the Democrats D66 for making it harder to find this info. Once you dig up their party program, a 94 page PDF, however, there is a very concise point indeed, down on p.89, in the section about the EU: "Open for accession. The European Union is, in the view of D66, always open for new members. Countries - such as Turkey as well - can join the EU if they fulfill the accession criteria."

  • The Christian-Democrats/CDA are also succinct, and their pro-European perspective is clear: "The CDA considers the expansion of the EU positive. European integration assures the EU member states of prosperity, peace, democracy and human rights. The Netherlands has an interest in this too. The CDA thinks the EU should deal carefully with new expansion. The countries that want to become members of the EU do first have to meet all criteria."

  • The right-wing liberals of the VVD have an English translation of their party program! It's short and sternly worded about Turkey's accession chances: "Turkey does not enter the EU, as long as it does not meet 100% of the EU accession conditions (Copenhagen criteria) and all of the EU member states have expressed their support for membership themselves. Moreover, the accession negotiations must be stopped as longs as Turkey refuses to recognize Cyprus by not ratifying the Ankara Protocol." Nothing about other countries though. On their Dutch-language page about Europe, the VVD adds distinctly more woolly language: "The so-called Copenhagen criteria which new members must meet have been comprehensively integrated in the new treaty" - referring to the Lisbon treaty, I guess? - "and it will also be taken into consideration whether Europe can process such expansion. The VVD strongly agrees with this. The VVD is satisfied that the silence about the debate in Europe has now, partly thanks to the insistence of [the VVD], been broken."

  • Surprisingly, the small, culturally conservative Christian Union also has an English translation of its program. It minces no words: "NO EXTENSION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION ANY TIME SOON. The European Union has expanded significantly in recent years. Now is the time to reduce the pace of enlargement. Let us first concentrate on ensuring cooperation between the current 27 member states improves and find ways to increase the speed with which decisions are taken with so many member countries. If the European Union should permit new members in future, these countries must always be located on the European continent, such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and the countries of the Western Balkans. The ChristenUnie is of the opinion that due to geographical, historical, and cultural reasons Turkey cannot be permitted as a member of the EU. Turkey resorts under the European Neighbourhood Policy, however, and as such is eligible for special ties of cooperation and support. However, Turkey will then need to meet certain requirements: Freedom of religion, freedom of association and the freedom to establish political parties."

  • The Freedom Party / PVV has a 59-page party program online. It has a one-sentence "solution" about EU expansion: "EU: Turkey in, the Netherlands out". LOL. To get an idea of the perspective that informs this "solution", the program has some choice words about the EU: "Another source of harm to our democracy goes by the name of European Union. The EU is starting to look ever more like the old Soviet Union. It's the EUssr. [..] Brussels tries to keep going with massive propaganda. But the billions of tax money that are being spent on it can't hide that EU nationalism can count on ever less support. [..] Economic and monetary cooperation is great, but the Netherlands as province of a European super state is something nobody is waiting for. So the EU should limit itself to a European Economic Community. We're going to take their flag down, their 'president' can go amuse his grandchildren and they can go sing their anthem under the shower. The Netherlands must stay!" That should bolster the PVV's standing as the DUtch equivalent of the Tea Party... this is the first time, in any case, that I've heard of the concept "EU nationalism".


The most interesting thing, I suppose, is that apart from the Freedom Party and the Christian Union, the Dutch parties really share a broad consensus on the subject. There are differences in tone and choice of language, but in practical terms, they all pretty much seem to agree on the basics.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 07:36 pm
@nimh,
Reading along with interest, nimh.



(& hello, I hope all is going well for you, too, btw. Smile )
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  3  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2010 05:00 pm
If we can trust the exit polls, the final regular polls yesterday were a little off. The far right Freedom Party of Geert Wilders especially has done a notable tick better, and seems to be getting some 15% of the vote.

Counting the votes is going very slow - the country is back to voting with the pencil, after electronic voting earlier on. Only about a quarter of the votes has been counted. But based on the exit poll and the results so far, the broadcasters, co-operating this time, currently have this prognosis:

Code:20,6% PvdA - Labour
20,1% VVD - Right-wing liberals
14,4% PVV - Freedom Party
14,0% CDA - Christian-Dems
9,5% SP - Socialists
7,0% D66 - Democrats
6,8% GL - Green Left
3,3% CU - Christian Union
2,0% SGP (fundamentalist Christian)
1,3% PvdD - Party for the Animals


The talking heads are, American-style, all a-twitter about which party will be the biggest - Labour or the VVD? They were both at 31 seats, then Labour was ahead 32-31, then the VVD was ahead 32-31. Now it's important, which one is bigger - the biggest party gets to take the lead in forming a new government.

But what they don't mention at all is the other big question: will a right-wing coalition of VVD, Christian-Democrats and Wilder's Freedom Party (possibly with the latter only 'tolerating' the government rather than taking part formally) get a majority? The first prognosis said no, they get 74; the newer prognoses say yes, 76.

Even if those three parties get a majority, doesn't mean they will form a new government - the other alternatives are some broad so-called "purple-plus" coalition of VVD, Democrats, Labour and Green Left and a "national government" of VVD, Christian-Democrats and Labour. But if the VVD has an alternative on the right 'flank', that will surely make a big difference: it could mean the VVD will turn to that radical alternative after negotiations in the center fail, or use the threat of that alternative to make Labour, Green Left and Democrats accept a lot more painful compromises than they would otherwise swallow.
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2010 05:23 pm
@nimh,
It seems to me that there will be an attempt to exclude the PVV-Freedom Party at virtually all cost.
nimh
 
  3  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2010 05:57 pm
@realjohnboy,
I hope so. But the only other alternatives are pretty unthinkable themselves: a national government with all the three traditional main parties? In order to execute an intimidating load of painful, proposed budget cuts? And then what, see the far left and far right protest parties surge in 2014?

Or the alternative, a retread of the 1990s "purple" left-centre-right government of Labour, Democrats and the VVD, but this time in times of crisis instead of boom, and for added complication throwing in the Green Left as well? The Green Left, those descendants of pacifist socialists and communists, and the pro-market, pro-business, pro-industry, highways and law-and-order VVD in one government -- in any other conditions that would have been absolutely unthinkable. It's truly a testament to the fragmentation of the landscape that this is even realistically considered now, but you have to wonder how long such a government would last.
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2010 06:43 pm
@nimh,
Wilders, of the Freedom Party, faces criminal charges for an anti-Islamist film. Do I have that right? Will that go anywhere?
nimh
 
  3  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2010 07:58 pm
@nimh,
95% of the votes counted, the public broadcaster just called it a night, and the lurch to the right is somewhat more pronounced still than when I first posted tonight.

The VVD is definitely larger than Labour now, and will get the lead on forming a government.

The Freedom Party outdid the polls by almost 4% - a function of people not wanting to admit to pollsters that they were voting for Wilders? - and has received over 15% of the vote.

The way the left, as a whole, seemed to be outdoing the polls by a couple of points in the first prognoses turns out to just have been a statistical artifact. Together, the left-of-centre parties got 44%, and the right-of-centre parties 52% (with the Christian Union sandwiched in between).

The talking heads on TV eventually seemed to get around to slowly realizing what I was afraid of since two or three hours ago: that the most likely government is not "purple plus" or a national government, but a sharply right-wing coalition of VVD, Freedom Party and Christian-Dems. They would have a precarious majority of 1 in parliament (76 out of 150). We will see.

Taking a step back, just look at this fragmentation: no party larger than 20%! Unprecedented. The main three traditional parties (Christian-Dems, Labour and right-wing libs), which used to get over 80% of the vote back in the 80s, are down to 54% among them, a record low.

Code:prelim comp/w SEATS
result 2006 /150
20,3% + 5.7% 31 VVD - Right-wing liberals
19,6% - 1.6% 30 PvdA - Labour
15,5% + 9.6% 24 PVV - Freedom Party
13,7% -12.9% 21 CDA - Christian-Dems
9,9% - 6.7% 15 SP - Socialists
6,9% + 4.9% 10 D66 - Democrats
6,7% + 2.1% 10 GL - Green Left
3,2% - 0.8% 5 CU - Christian Union
1,8% + 0.2% 2 SGP (fundamentalist Christian)
1,3% - 0.5% 2 PvdD - Party for the Animals
0,6% + 0.6% 0 Proud of the Netherlands
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2010 08:00 pm
@realjohnboy,
sorry, missed your post. i dunno, to be honest. i doubt it.
0 Replies
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 12:47 am
yikes. 24 seats for Wilders? "Amen, darkness" as we Slovaks say (amen tma....guess that does not translate so well, eh).
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 05:57 am
@dagmaraka,
The 24 seats are scary enough in itself - especially the PVV's conquest of all kinds of traditional working class territory, not just the old neighbourhoods of the big cities with all their immigrants anymore, but places like the former coal mining lands in the southeast as well. But it's the prospect of the VVD and CDA going into government for Wilders that properly scares me.

And yeah. With 76 seats among them, the Christian-Dems demoralized, the Freedom Party having done much better still than expected, and the only alternatives involving either some weird alliance including VVD and Green Left or a national government, I think that's exactly what will happen. And Wilders' group is liable to be much more disciplined and organizes than Pim Fortuyn's motley crue was in 2002. So I don't think there would be a repeat of the chaos that consumed the right-wing government with the Fortuynists, which collapsed after just couple of months, back then either - this one might well last a couple of years. We'll see, I hope I'm being too pessimistic.
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 05:59 am
@nimh,
really? they would be nuts enough to go into coalition with wilders? i hope not, though i have no idea on what grounds i hope, looking at slovakia here, hungary there...
what's this world coming to...eh, i'm emigrating to mars.
0 Replies
 
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 09:24 am
Meanwhile, what is going to happen do yall think in Belgium? As I understand it, there are elections there today; the first of several to form what will have to be a coalition government.
The New Flemish Alliance, under Bart De Wever, has for years been on the fringes. But now this separatist party seems poised to win.
The NVA favors splitting Belgium into two countries: Dutch speaking Flanders (population 6.5 million) and French speaking Wallonia (pop 4.0 mil).
Can that possibly happen?
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 09:33 am
@realjohnboy,
There's a Belgium thread since some time, which didn't get much attraction, though.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 09:37 am
@realjohnboy,
realjohnboy wrote:

The NVA favors splitting Belgium into two countries: Dutch speaking Flanders (population 6.5 million) and French speaking Wallonia (pop 4.0 mil).
Can that possibly happen?


And "we" get the German speaking Community?

I don't think that such can really happen. But since nationalism (sometimes called patriotism) is rising (not only in Europe) ...
0 Replies
 
 

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