The Socialist 13 July 2006 |
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Netherlands: Coalition government falls apart
ON 29 June the Dutch right-wing coalition government collapsed. It
was made up of the Christian-democrats (CDA) led by Prime Minister Jan
Peter Balkenende, the right wing liberal party (VVD) and the so-called
Ron Blom, Offensief (CWI, Netherlands)
This was the direct result of the crisis surrounding the withdrawal
of VVD MP Hirsi Ali's passport by hardlline immigration minister Rita
Verdonk back in May. (Hirsi Ali, a Muslim who was granted asylum in the
Netherlands, arose to prominence over the last few years for her
right-wing populist policies on immigrant issues and Islam.)
Following marathon discussions in parliament's lower house, the
smallest of the three coalition government parties, the D66, after
supporting a motion of censure (subsequently defeated) against Rita
Verdonk, withdrew from the government.
At the moment, it seems there will be a CDA-VVD government, supported
by the right populist 'List Pim Fortuyn' MPs until elections on 22 or 29
The fall of the government was not just over Hirsi Ali but also
resulted from the coalition's weak support in society. Though the
government recently regained some support, due to economic recovery,
there is still widespread hatred amongst the working class towards
government policies of cut-backs and privatisations.
Large demonstrations and rolling strikes, over the last few years,
against the biggest post-war cuts, showed the determined mood of the
working class and drew together all sections of working people and the
But the trade union leaders did not develop the struggle any further
and step up industrial action, including general strikes, to force the
government to back down.
A 'left coalition' government?
The union leaders hope for a good election result for the PvdA social
democrats, and for the PvdA to form a coalition government with the
According to opinion polls, the Christian Democrats will lose eight
seats, and the VVD, with its growing racist profile (Verdonk will be
number two on the party's election slate), will gain one seat. The
social democratic party (PvdA) stagnates in the polls but 'Green-Left'
will grow from eight to eleven seats.
The left reformist Dutch Socialist Party is predicted to
spectacularly increase its MPs from nine to 17.
For revolutionary socialists this means calling for a radical
alternative and, at the same time, warning about illusions in a
so-called 'left wing coalition' government, consisting of the PvdA,
Green-Left and the SP (although an unlikely sceanrio).
It is clear from remarks made by the leaders of these three parties
that such a coalition government would not decisively break with the
policies of privatisation, liberalisation and war that come with the
logic of capitalism.
Rebuilding the workers' movement, on a socialist programme, remains
of the outmost importance. This means transforming the unions, so that
they are democratic, combative mass organisations representing the
working class. It also means building a mass political voice for the
Dutch working class, the poor and immigrants.
Offensief members (CWI in Netherlands) participate in the Socialist
Party, which has wide support amongst workers. We call for it to adopt
bold socialist policies and to pursue an independent working class line.
Alongside developments outside the Socialist Party, this would create
the basis for a new mass socialist alternative.