Elections in the Netherlands (again)

Reply Fri 24 Jan, 2003 09:51 pm
Dutch-Canadian Entertainment Club ... ?
ehBeth wrote:
Canajun, yes, but members of the Dutch-Canadian Entertainment Club in the 1970's (anything to get a discount on flights on KLM)!

The "Dutch-Canadian Entertainment Club" ?! <grins stupidly in something quite like bewilderment>

Whaddahell was that?

Do tell me all about it ... ;-)

ehBeth wrote:
I am the girl [nerd alert nerd alert] who taught herself Dutch through short-wave radio lessons, after all.

<nods, slowly, in something now distinctly mixing awe in with the disbelief, checks himself, trying to sound normal:> really?


i know it - there must have been a man involved, no?

(when i tried learning hungarian in university my six fellow-students in the course included three with one or two hungarian-born parents and three with a hungarian boy or girl-friend)
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Reply Sat 25 Jan, 2003 07:45 am

no man involved, nimh. i liked to listen to short-wave radio (still do, occasionally - i've got the hamburger's old radio here - it still picks up good shortwave - and i treated myself to a small portable Grundig for its shortwave capabilities) when i was a teen. i was always interested in news from around the world (i told you, nerd alert nerd alert). i really liked radio nederland, so when they offered dutch by shortwave i signed up. they sent me a textbook (it's here somewhere, 30 years later) with a small record for practicing - and a radio schedule of classes. i became rather proficient. As german was my first language, i could get around some of the sounds fairly well, and since hamburger made a point of getting me into english story hour very early(not to mention the portuguese neighbours i played with), i had/have a generally good ear for languages.

hmmmm, the Dutch Canadian Entertainment Club. You'd have to ask hamburger how he found out about that. I do know that we always flew to Schiphol on KLM, on DCEC charter flights. mrs. hamburger saved the menu for one flight we were on - KLM's first trans-atlantic flight with a 747 - champagne was served - quite an event for a 15 year-old.
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Reply Sat 25 Jan, 2003 07:47 am
sooooo, the election. the results were even covered in the throw-away paper handed out on the subway here! interesting results, it seems as if Fortuyn really effected things - perhaps not as hoped or anticipated - but he certainly created a wonderful increase in the interest in politics. I'd hesitate to say every country needs a Pym Fortuyn but ...
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Reply Tue 11 Mar, 2003 07:29 pm
There were provincial elections today. Not a lot of people went (slightly less than half). Interest in provincial politics tends to be low.

Labour and the List Fortuyn (which did dismally) suffered most from the low turnout, though in the case of Labour not half as much as was expected, and it still was the biggest winner compared to the previous provincial elections, 4 years ago.

The Christian Democrats normally profit greatly from low turnout (as their voters are mostly old and loyal, and will come out even when others won't), but this time they didn't do any better than in January in the national elections. Instead, it was the small Christian Union (even more dutiful voters) and the Green Left that did better than two months ago (though both did worse than 4 years ago).

The Green Left may have profited from a return of voters who voted "strategically" for Labour in January and have now "come home" again; or from a clear stance against war; but then again the Socialist Party apparently profited from neither. Bit of a muddled picture there. Again, turnout's probably key: the Socialists draw more of their support from groups that are among the first to 'switch off' when turnout drops.

All in all the results pretty much seem a confirmation of January's choices.

The provincial parliaments also vote in the members of the Senate. The big question was whether Christian Democrats and Labour, currently busy negotiating government coalition talks, would get a majority in the Senate too. If they wouldn't, or if the Christian Democrats would get a fair majority in the Senate with the right-wing VVD instead, government talks might just have faltered after all.

Instead, Chr-Dems and Labour will get an ample majority in the Senate, while the alternative majority with the VVD will be so marginal (only one seat) that it will keep the Chr-Dems from an all too easy mid-term shift. The only thing that can disturb the forming of a new Labour-ChrDem government is "Iraq"; Labour does not want to support a war without UN resolution, while the ChrDems are loyal at all times to the US (something that may have hurt them in the elections).

Results (between brackets January's score)
Christian Democrats 28% (28,6%)
Labour 24,1% (27,3%)
VVD 18,5% (17,9%)
Green Left 6,9% (5,1%)
Christian Union/SGP 6,4% (3,7%)
Socialist Party 5,6% (6,3%)
Democrats 4,6% (4,1%)
List Pim Fortuyn 2,9% (5,7%)
Frysian National Party 0,6% (-)
Livable Netherlands affiliates 0,5% (0,4%)
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Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2003 10:25 pm
WOW Hello Nimh - from the Netherlands
That sounds SO dreamy doesn't it, like Never Never
Land, go east of nether and take a right at ether, then
a left at whether - I like the SOUND of your country
Nimn. A whole lot more than I like the REALITY of OUR
own country here of late, and - well, for quite some time
actually. Though I will admit that things HAVE heated up
to a roiling boil here in recent weeks. If things should
get ugly, what IS the Netherlands policy about immigrants?
Or do they hate ALL of us Americans too?? I am so GLAD
that LittleK & Jes have reminded you to come to join us
here for some fun & the occassional reality, although that
CAN be just a wee widdle bit upsetting. I can't imagine
crime in the Netherlands?? It just doesn't sound right - it
is a small country, right? The Netherlands I tend to think of,
as being like Switzerland -where they manage to abstain
from anything violent, from EVERYTHING! You have just
GOT to hand it to Switzerland now! That is one very tiny
little country, yet they stick to their guns thru thick and
thin - er, well they tend to NOT STICK TO THEIR GUNS
no matter [email protected] That's what I meant to say. In any
world war, any wars at all, it seems. I sure do envy them.
As for the U.S. I am sure that YOU are aware of how many
of our "fearless leaders" have been outright murdered right
here in the good old morally right winged U S A!!! And not
only do they get murdered, but we SOMEHOW manage to
get the film clips of it to keep the all news networks very,
very busy, so that if nothing good enough is on any of the
networks shows, the all news channel can ALWAYS arrange
for just a wee bit of violence - just enough to keep the
American THIRST for blood, guts and gore. Even if there is
just not a thing happening in the way of blood, guts and gore
right here in the USA, there is ALWAYS Ireland to keep watch
over. Non stop violence over there... they can manage to
have 2 different all news networks going all the time, that's
how much violence goes on over there. Yes - you can count
on WE THE PEOPLE!! We Americans DO love to hang our USA
flags up high off the front porch, and hunker down with a bottle
of alcoholic beverage and get ready to do the 24 hour all news
station, 24 hours a day, 7 days out of 7 - It is really SECRETLY
called the all news,all gruesome station....they make the BEST
ratings over things like the death of Princess Di, Jackie O, or
remember the entire SERIES SPECIAL, like The Thornbirds,
the one that was called the "How OJ Simpson Got Away With
Murdering His Wife Trial? The entire trial, every nitty gritty bit
of it, was all on your friendly all news, national television, all
the time - in fact, you could tape it while at work, then just
come right on home, pop in a microwave dinner in and eat the
TV dinner without missing a thing,non of the gory stuff. When
there is just NO excitement to be found here in the USA, the all
news, always gruesome networks can be COUNTED ON (if you
get my meaning) to make absolutely certain that someone's
old, gruesome, but really fascinating story will be revived,
somewhere, and our violence here, it is ALWAYS, 100
percent of the time, definetely NOT due to terrorism. Well, I
mean that Bush Inc. very CLEARLY says that they do not
believe this is in any way connected with a terrorist action,
but this is just a cute little ploy to get you thinking, but, now
WHY did he have to go and say that? I'll just bet he said that
because there really truly IS terrorist involved in doing it and
Bush, Inc. is just doing his sworn duty as our chief, trying to
keep the public calm. All the while, this poor wonderful and
devoted family man (and so religious, he puts Billy Graham
to shame) this poor man, is suffering, is holding all of this
knowledge of such violence & ugliness in check, just so that
WE, the people of the USA will be able to sleep soundly at night
and feel safe. NOW THIS is really the place where all the saint
hood stories about Bush, Inc. REALLY got started. It's a pretty
clever little piece of work there, isn't it... we know that it is ALL
terrorism. And don't we all have that terrible sinking feeling
in the pits of our stomachs, that this could be the beginning
of the end. Who knows what moment the germ warfare
will just settle in over us, like dust all around us, breathing
it in and not even knowing a thing is wrong. Just like in that
old movie - THE STAND. See, the TRUTH IS that Stephen
King is NOT REALLY a fiction writer, as we have been led to
believe, ALL OF US have been led to believe. He is really a
very very low profile psychic that the FBI the CIA AND the
Pentagon all use to help in waging this battle between GOOD
and EVIL! Now, the good guys (that's us, the ones in white)
HEY!! Right over here, ARE YOU BLIND or what? See, that's us
the USA, in white.
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Reply Tue 6 May, 2003 07:19 pm
Today was a year ago exactly Pim Fortuyn was killed. The Fortuynists try to turn it into a national holiday, but they're not having much success. As it happens, April 30 here already is Queen's day, May 4 commemoration of the war's dead and May 5 Liberation Day. Come May 6, people've had all the commemoration and celebration they need.

According to an opinion poll asking "what May 6 means to you", 23% answers that may 6 is "the day after Liberaton Day" while a further 51% considers the day "an ordinary working day"; only 24% answers "the commemoration of Pim Fortuyn". 57% vs 30% is against making it a "national day for democracy"; 72% vs 23% considers that to be "redundant".

There's more to that than simply the overload of national holidays, tho. Fortuyn really is dead - no matter how much the new leaders of the various political parties implore they "have learnt from him". The political system's pretty much returned to normality, up to where the percentages in the opinion polls almost mirror those of before 2002. The red and green leftist parties, for example, at 41% in the 1998-2002 parliament and beaten back to 28% after Fortuyn's death, got back to 39% in january's elections and are at 41% exactly in the polls now.

All the newspapers and magazines were full of evaluations and argumentations about pim's significance and legacy, it's true. But in face of the less than wholehearted public concern about Fortuyn's legacy, the editors, too, were left to acknowledge that its basically back to business. A commemoration at the media park where he was killed attracted "several dozen" people; the graveyard in driehuis a few hundred people.

Only in Rotterdam, 'Pim-city', a commemoration march that initially drew only a few hundred people suddenly increased to fivethousand when it ended with the unveiling of a Pim Fortuyn statue. Mostly only people from the hard core of his following, people from the inner city neighbourhoods who complain that, for a moment, they had hope, but now "politics is a mess again". The broader range of voters who were attracted by his program of tax cuts, health care reform and limiting government has long since moved on. (in a symbolic episode of near-dadaist proportions last month, a competing statue ordered by a friend of Fortuyn's was literally beheaded while being driven to Fortuyn's house, "Palazzo di Pietro", amidst great media attention. Distracted by his moment of fame, the truck driver misestimated the height of a tunnel, and the head was neatly lobbed off).

Still, some of the summary memoirs that the newspaper articles provide give an indication of just how sharp and quick developments actually were at the time - it already sounds semi-surreal if you read back about it.

There's the interviews with the various political leaders of last year - because remember, of the five party leaders who debated Fortuyn on tv after the municipal elections in March 2002, four have retreated from politics now - a whole generation was swept aside. They remember the shock of the news, the hasty calls with each other, the rushed gathering in "The Hague", where the parties had their offices in parliament. A gathering that took place while outside throngs of people had started to gather, accusing them of murder. It was only a few days before the elections - should they take place or be postponed?

The political leaders didnt want to (or dare to) decide without consulting the List Pim Fortuyn and his family. Democrat leader Thom de Graaf: "They had to be contacted first. But nobody had the cell phone number of Mat Herben (Fortuyn's spokesman and later replacement as List Fortuyn leader). In the end (Christian Democrat leader) Balkenende turned out to have it." Prime minister Wim Kok was to call Herben and arrange a meeting for the next day. Herben felt he needed to explain the PM who he was: "we were in Eritrea together recently [Herben used to work at the mod] - I'm the guy with the moustache."

Especially that last anecdote hit home. The leader of a new party that was to get practically all political leaders of the moment fired, is shot, and the entire political elite huddles together in helpless deliberations. They gotta call Fortuyn's party, but they dont have the number - how symbolic a representation can you get, of their momentary failure to grasp this new movement?! And when finally the PM gets through to Fortuyn's replacement, the man feels he first has to explain who he was again - "the guy with the moustache, remember me?".

<shakes head>. Just imagine the existential confusion of it all.

By ways of a more dreary, every-day update, btw, after three months of negotiations over a new coalition government Labour and Christian Democrats broke apart in mutual recrimination - not over Iraq, but over proposed budget cuts. That took the Christian Democratic CDA back to their preferred coalition partner, the VVD (freemarket conservatives); but as the two of them still lack a parliamentary majority, a ritual dance with remaining potential coalition partners ensued. These included the List Fortuyn (reduced to 8 seats in the 150-man parliament), though that would amount to restoring a coalition that had just crashed after a record short term last year; as well as the christian-fundamentalist parties Christian Union and SGP.

The SGP, to explain a little, doesnt allow women to hold official positions, and shuns appearances on the sinful modern medium of tv - and has two seats in parliament. Now their participation in government would surely have been an interesting follow-up to Fortuyn's tornado of gay hedonism and rage against "backward islam", wouldn't it? <smiles>.

Instead, however, CDA and VVD will most probably end up with the left-liberal Democrats (6 seats). All of which has done wonders to the opinion poll ratings of Labour, now martyred - but with the next elections years away, that doesnt do them any good, of course.

Although, after last year - one just cant know anymore, what might happen next ...
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Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 02:39 pm
Graph of opinion polls updated here!
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Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 03:24 pm
Technically, it is uneasy to decide, especially, if I am not too much aware of the internal political life in Netherlands. Graphs may be misleading as well: the professional loser of the Israeli politics Mr. Peres, for example, always leads in polls and loses elections.
By all means, I hope that the man or woman elected by the Dutch people to this post is a Dutch politician, that represents will of his people and not this of bureaucrats from Brussels or bonapartists from Paris.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 03:54 pm
Well, the list of the assassinated Pim Fortuyn didn't do so well, so there is no reason for fearing any Bonapartism in the Netherlands, I think.

Perhaps, steissd, you don't know that the Netherlands belong to the founding members of the EU-forerunner, the Europen Community? That the Benelux-countries were the first "EU-like" countries in Europe?
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Reply Mon 12 May, 2003 04:00 pm
I am not against EU, Mr. Hinteler, I am against its being dominated by France. This will make the mentioned respectable international union strongly anti-American.
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Reply Mon 8 Sep, 2003 03:54 pm
So, I dont know whether anyone noticed ... but our PM, Jan-Peter Balkenende, was on an official visit to see your President, the other day. He had breakfast with Bush and Rice, and unexpectedly Cheney and Powell even showed up, an' all. "Bush and I have a lot in common", he bravely submitted to the press afterwards.

Balkenende and our minister of Foreign Affairs, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who hopes to be appointed as the new NATO-chief soon, got to be the first to hear about the US decision to go back to the UN about Iraq. But alas, when Powell later that day spoke to the press, he forget to mention our PM, instead emphasizing how, that day, he had "called" his colleagues in Britain, France and Germany.

Here's a picture of our PM and Bush ...


Remarkably, whereas normally being seen together with the big 'uns of the world does wonders for a politician's standing, after his visit to Bush Balkenende's Christian Democratic party lost a further 2-4 seats in the opinion polls, which puts them at the lowest point yet since the January elections. Balkenende's own rating remained at 4.5 (out of 10), the second lowest-scoring of the seven main party leaders (performing worst is List Fortuyn-leader Mat Herben).

If there were elections now, the Christian-Democrats would keep only 32 or 33 of their 44 seats. The right-wing government as a whole, founded on a 78-seat majority in the 150-seat parliament, in the current polls only has 67 or 68 seats, depending on the poll.

Polls suggest that many Dutch agreed with the otherwise always so moderate former PM (and Labour leader) Wim Kok, who warned Balkenende not to be a "lap dog" of the American president. The populist (but definitely not leftist) commercial TV station SBS 6 did no less than two of its endearingly unreserved polls. Never too shy to ask a leading question, the SBS 6 pollsters, for example, asked (before Balkenende went):

SBS6 wrote:
Do you think president Bush will take the Dutch delegation led by Balkenende seriously?

Yes 35%, No 55% Don't know 10%

During his visit today to the White House PM Balkenende also wants to talk of other things then transatlantic relations, the American world order and the Dutch soldiers in Iraq. He wants to speak of "norms and values", too. Do you think Bush is interested in the discussion about "norms and values"?

Yes 28%, No 68%, Don't know 5%

President Bush probably wants to know whether the Netherlands will remain the small, loyal ally that it's behaved as lately. Do you think that, aside from pats on the shoulder and promises, there will also be some real business during the visit?

Yes 24%, No 69%, Don't know 7%

Do you think that Balkenende will breach subjects like the American refusal to sign the climate treaty and the negative attitude to the new international criminal court in The Hague with Bush?

Yes 24%, No 63%, Don't know 13%

Do you consider Jaap de Hoop Scheffer qualified as NATO General Secretary?

Yes 29%, No 45%, Don't know 26%

After the visit, the phrasing of a second SBS6 poll says as much as its results:

What was your reaction to the appearance of PM Balkenende in ‘the Oval Office’ of the White House?

Proud - the PM did a great service to our country - 17%,
Embarassment - our PM fully lacked charisma - 50%,
Other - 25%

Its well time for our PM to do something about his "sullige" (dopey, stuffy) image.

Fully agree 44%, Agree 31%
Disagree 16%, Fully disagree 6%

Former PM Kok last Wednesday said that the Netherlands have been following the US a little all too tamely this last period. To what extent do you agree with Kok?

Fully agree 41%, Agree 27%
Disagree 16%, Fully disagree 14%

Do you think the Dutch delegation has behaved like a "lap dog" during its visit to Bush?

Yes 62%, No 29%, Don't know 9%

(Then again - these are the pollsters who ask questions like, "A smoking ban in cafes and discos, isnt that a little exaggerated?" That's a 71%, "Yeh, absolutely", and 27% "No, why?", if you're wondering <grins>).
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Reply Mon 8 Sep, 2003 06:47 pm
Below be the latest update on the (average) of opinion polls. The vertical lines you see denote, from left to right, respectively: the general elections of 1998 (thats why there's a break in the graph to its right); the local elections of March 2002; the general elections of May 2003; the fall of the Christian-Democrat/List Fortuyn/VVD government autumn last year; the general elections of January 2003; and the forming of the new Christian-Democrat/VVD/Democrat government. Bigger version of these graphs is here.


One result of this latest dip in the popularity of Mr. Balkenende and his Christian-Democrats is that, for the first time in several years, the left-wing parties have more seats in the polls than the right-wing parties - and they have it in both regularly published polls.

This is very rare. The only time in Dutch political history the "left" ever gained half the seats in national parliamentary elections was in 1998, when right-wing and left-wing parties each came to 75 seats.

Of course, 'the left' is as virtual a construction as the poll figures themselves, as it includes a broad sweep from the populist Socialist Party to the ever centrist (small) Democrat party - parties which aren't likely to ever work together.

But the symbolic value is high. Just over a year ago, the Fortuynist revolution positively swept the Left into the political gutter. In the 2002 elections, the right-wing parties together won a clear 2/3rd majority - 101 seats against 49. the Labour Party was halved, dropping from 30% to 15%. But now Labour is back up at 32%. And though traditionally, whenever Labour surges, the "small left" is depleted, this time the two seem to prosper side by side, with the Greens at 7% and the Socialists at 9%.


The bad news: the government coalition seems to be unshaken by any of these polls, and the partners seem to be in solid agreement on the future. Furthermore, the government now includes the Democrats, which makes the concept of a "Left" that includes them all the more virtual.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 8 Sep, 2003 10:54 pm
Thanks for these updates, nimh!
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Reply Tue 9 Sep, 2003 06:50 pm
glad you appreciated 'em! :-)
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Reply Tue 9 Sep, 2003 07:41 pm
nimh, I am a bit of a snob, eager to report that I get my news from "serious" news organizations such as National Public Radio instead of the commercial networks.
But I'm afraid that your country hasn't been mentioned lately. Sorry about that. -rjb-
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Reply Tue 9 Sep, 2003 07:48 pm

Thaz OK. I understand. <sob>
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Reply Tue 9 Sep, 2003 07:50 pm
On the bright side - here on a2k, we've been called "a sinkhole of depravity, occupied mainly by perverts and morons" today.
(By Italgato, of course).

<moved> Its stuff like that, that makes you aware again what it means to be Dutch - what binds us as a nation!

<hums national anthem>
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Reply Tue 9 Sep, 2003 09:42 pm
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 9 Sep, 2003 11:35 pm
Nimh, ik begrijp het. Laughing
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Reply Wed 10 Sep, 2003 05:20 pm
Good evening , nimh. I am realjohnboy (rjb for short). I live about 100 miles south of Washington in Virginia. I make no apologies about being a liberal southern democrat (which would take some explaining) but I try, really hard, on sites such as this to be as neutral (i.e. reportorial) as I can be.
Sorry for the long introduction.

If an election were to be held today, Mr Bush would probably win. But it strikes me that things are looking bad:
(1) I did my time in Vietnam in 1970-1972. I know, as do the old anti-war protestors of that era, what a quagmire is. We may be in one in Iraq;
(2) The Isreal/Palestine situation is deteriorating;
(3) And then there is North Korea and Iran issue;
and finally (my area of expertise)
(4) The US Economy, which looked like it may be improving, but (without going into detail) is perhaps weakening.

Your leader got his photo opportunity with our president. I suggest that that he may be as close as he wants to get for awhile. Lay low.

(What's with the Swedish FM being stabbed? On my BBC crawl but no details). realjohnboy
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