2017 Dutch Election: ‘politics for everyone’?


By Yury Polyakov

The Western World followed the capitalisation and democratisation processes that created the common ground for a normative basis of the regional European interest. Despite the active role played by the anarchists and the left, European countries sustained democracy and parliamentarism as shared ideals, whereas communism secured its strategic location in the Soviet Union and its influence sphere. The Netherlands obtained the essential element of all democracies – free and fair elections. This country formed a system with universal rights in 1917. However, the social transformations of today are global, and they shed light on the most sensitive topics that nobody wanted to discuss publicly in preceding decades.

In the Netherlands, the feeling of uncertainty between party leaders and the electorate is not uncommon. Many people are concerned with the straightforward question – how will the election results change the Dutch political system? The post-1994 Dutch politics was different from the post-2012 Liberal triumph case. For instance, 28 political parties are going to participate in the election, and it can significantly fragment the existing system. In contrast, there were only 21 parties in the 2012 elections. Concerning the structure of the government, this leads to a situation where at least five political parties would have to negotiate the creation of a coalition because they are running closely in the opinion polls. The current debates identify interesting viewpoints on Immigration, globalisation and national interest. They all form the base that will guide Dutch people either in the prosperous future or into a new social crisis. Hence, the Dutch Democracy will undergo new set of tests, dilemmas and practical issues, which will give political scientists explicit material for their analytical assignments.

Tom Friedman argues that people from everywhere generally risk losing their friends over politics nowadays. Friedman’s message is that the social changes are truly global, and the fragmentation of the world goes faster than ever. Friedman wrote about that in one of his articles for the New York Times last summer. However, he could not foresee the importance of the Dutch Elections for Europe. Although Geert Wilders has got extremely low chances to become the Dutch Prime Minister because he is reluctant to form coalitions, Front National and AfD will subsequently strengthen their national positions in France and Germany respectively. In other words, if the Wilder’s PVV party comes first, then the people from Western Europe who share similar views about culture and immigration, will certainly feel inspired to support like-minded parties. Thereby, there will be a legitimate reason to expect the ‘Koblenz plus, plus, plus’, referring to a moment when Donald Trump called his presidency a ‘Brexit Plus’ in November 2016.

Hans Daalder believes that the Dutch political system emerged when the Dutch Provinces simultaneously united and established the decentralized system in the 17th century. It was hard to build a centralized state because various religious groups struggled to make mutual concessions. Consequently, they secured it, and it laid the foundation for the current political arena. Daalder developed a rigorous understanding of the system because its colonial past left a lasting legacy for the future. Indeed, its decentralization grew alongside with its territorial expansion. Moreover, Kaj Leers affirms that the Netherlands are still dependent on international trade because its exports account for the 32, 4 % of their GDP.   Currently, six types of the elections occur on the various levels in the Netherlands, ranging from the European to the Municipal.

One thing that the six new political parties will not change is the weight of the Dutch Constitution. The Constitution manifests that the Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy where members of parliament are elected via a PR-list system. In the post-1950 world, Liberals, Social Democrats, and Christian Democrats became the three top political parties that were forming the coalitions. Importantly, the victory of the Labour Party in 1994 marked the beginning of the Social Democrat dominance in Europe because they subsequently turned into the ruling force in the European Commission. Likewise, they shaped decision-making within the European Parliament. This domination is no longer viable among the working-class, who feels disenchanted with the European political elite. They believe the political elite enjoys all benefits of the common market and the Schengen zone, whereas Dutch citizens with low-income shift their allegiance to Wilders because he strongly condemns the bureaucracy for the deterioration of their well-being.

Arend Lijphart recalls his youth in the Netherlands and underlines the disparity between voting levels in the past with its massive turnout at the European Elections, where turnout was only 34%. Although Dutch European Elections are different than the Parliamentary, the main flaw of Lijphart’s argument is that he does not specify that the Netherlands used a compulsory voting system before 1967. By far, the Netherlands demonstrate a relatively high turnout rate across Europe even with voluntary voting. For example, 74, 6 % of the Dutch people voted, and the People Party for Freedom and Democracy that won 41 seats joined a coalition with the Labour Party. Currently, there are 12, 7 million people who are eligible to vote on Election Day. Nevertheless, the number of parties will damage the turnout because there a lot that would not be able to deliver their election promises.

In the extreme proportional presentation, the Dutch party just needs to exceed 0, 67% threshold to get in parliament. Apart from Geert Wilders who is the ‘enfant terrible’ of the political landscape, there are new faces in Dutch politics. Jesse Klaver is the new star in the Netherlands because he is young, his appearance is similar to the Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, and his Groen Links party helped Rutte’s government to form the new Dutch fiscal policy. For instance, Mark Rutte addressed the issues of immigration and integration in his January 2017 letter that Geert Wilders is actively playing around, but the main narrative of the VVD campaign spins around their economic record. Furthermore, The Democrats 66 leader Alexander Pechtold did well in televised debates, and the Dutch audience acknowledged his victory. Pechtold addressed such issues of vital importance as healthcare and pensions, which the older strata of the Dutch population considers as deeply disturbing. All in all, the most recent incident included a spat between the Turkish and the Dutch governments, and the decision to ban the entry for the Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu, which has been one of the final blasts before Election Day.

Political parties will certainly spend not less than a month in negotiations to form a coalition government. In the light of the French and German elections, the timing matters because the European political elite must act assertively to eliminate the knowledge gap between the ordinary Europeans and the elite itself. The fear of the Russian Hackers is the reason why the Dutch Electoral Board refused to use the electoral software to count the ballots. Thus, the likelihood that we shall enter a new era is high because in a globalized world the time and space are compressed, and the use of the old technologies provokes a radical change.













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