Dutch Elections – The day after

Four people have send me an email, asking me what did I vote. Well, I’m not going to tell you.

For a nice summary of the election result see the Washington Post. As expected, no party won enough seats for a majority in the lower house of parliament. The patterns shifted significant numbers of seats to parties with extremist views and robbed moderate parties of influence — a result that stunned government officials and political analysts. Of course this shift receives most of the attention, nevertheless the traditional social-democrats and christian democrats remain the largest parties in this country, with the christian democrats of PM Balkenende on top. I don’t think this points to a great change but I think it is evidence of a great divide in society. Between people who focus on bourgeois values and want to maintain peace and social harmony (even with Muslims) and others who want to seek confrontation. This latter group can be divided into two subsections. The first group (people who voted for Wilders) want to seek confrontation with, in their perception, intolerant (radical) Muslims. The other group wants to seek confrontation with, again in their perception, the growing intolerance towards migrants by people like Wilders and Verdonk.


The biggest winners in the election are Wilders’ party Party for Freedom, the Christian Union and the Socialist Party. All three parties promote a very idealized form of communitarianism: inward oriented, trying to uphold a sense of gemeinschaft/community and social cohesion among the people. The Party for Freedom does that by stressing the importance of being Dutch, Dutch culture, Dutch values and norms:

[…]to preserve our common heritage. The struggle for the survival of our traditional values is not limited to one country.

It is not very clear what that common heritage exactly is, but since Islam and Muslims play the role of the ultimate other in their program, it is clear what that common heritage is not. The Christian Union also focuses on social cohesion:

For a Sustainable and Relational Society

The ChristianUnion frames its political views on current political issues in obedience to the Word of God. […] Starting point for this election program is that people come to their right in relation with other people. People should never be shut out; that is our motivation to invest in opportunities at the labour market for everyone.

And the same goes for the SP:

The social divide has grown, health care and education have deteriorated. The soul has been torn from our society, by which I mean the mutual understanding. Recently someone said to me, “What belongs to all of us has been lost.” And this is also the case. Public space has disappeared and the public sector has fallen into decline. I adhere to the dialectical idea that the more intensely something becomes itself, the more likely it is, ultimately, to cancel itself out.. I am convinced that in the next few years the indifference and superficiality will give way to a greater involvement and engagement.

The other party that has claimed victory, the Christian Democrats, have lost votes but are still the largest. The parties mentioned above, PVV,CU and SP, have campaigned against the European Constitution. Not really in the sense that they are anti-international or anti-globalization but in a sense that they don’t want globalization at the expense of the Dutch people. The same sense of inward looking and more or less the same communitarianism can be found at the Christian Democrats (no quotation: they don’t have an english language section…..).

This trend of looking inwards and turning against globalization and European unification can also be discovered in the latest election campaign: migration, the war against terror, development aid and Europe were never a real issue. Parties like the Green Left, D66 and VVD, that have campaigned in favor of the European constitution, have a more international oriented perception (although one could not really discover this during the campaign), have lost big time.

Important to note is also the significant contribution of the migrants in this election. 69,7% of the migrants have voted: the highest number ever which results in 13 seats in Parlaiment. Ten out of 13 have gone to left wing parties:  PvdA receives 6 (35,8% of the Turkish migrants have voted for the social democrats), SP 3 (17% of the Moroccan migrants have voted for SP) and Green Left 1. Christian Democrats and D66 both one seat.
But I could be wrong of course.

3 thoughts on “Dutch Elections – The day after

  1. I think you are wrong. Tolerance hasn’t won these elections. The SP houses a lot of former Fortuyn-voters in its electorate, and isn’t as tolerant as other parties (for example on the double nationality issue).

  2. Well to say that tolerance has won, is indeed a little too strong and that is not what I mean. The SP has advocates an attitude that less confrontational than that of Wilders, has probably attracked those people who are worried about what they see as the islamization of the Netherlands but are just as scared to enhance polarization. This does not mean that they are tolerant or intolerant; that’s a different issue.

  3. It is about framing the arguments differently. SP advocates will blame the capitalist
    system for encouraging migration from have not parts of the world to the haves of which
    the Netherlands is one. Issues such as the loss of jobs to the Third World as a result
    of globalization is something the SP uses to attract polarized voters.

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