In the Netherlands last night Geert Wilders and the PVV won. He was in a jubilant mood with 24 out of 150 seats in parliament. So my readers would ask ‘he won? with only a fraction of the votes’ and I’d say yes.
The electoral map was redrawn – the Netherlands is rife with floating voters. In the old days voters were very party (pillarization) loyal. This is no longer the case – voters have modernized and they now vote tactically. Comparing the former elections and last days results shows a large amount of migratory voters.
Let me explain this a little for anyone outside the dutch political arena. I’d characterize the VVD as a freedom oriented party strongly favoring middle class liberal conservatism, economic policies and business owner interests. I would however characterize the social agenda of the VVD as being to the socially left of Obama – they are in favor of abortion, gay marriage and have even expression tolerance regarding soft drugs, as long as it didn’t conflict with international respectability of the Netherlands. Economically the VVD I think is congruent with US democratic party values, but it does not advocate any worker protections since it assumes other parties will. I’d characterize the VVD as mixed – some members are cutthroat plutocrats, while others are ‘suit&tie’ libertarians. My personal view is the VVD is more libertarian than liberal, but the sad fact remains that if they had a majority position, I would probably end up on food stamps.
The second party, the PvdA, is a center left party advocation worker protections. I don’t thing the pvda is far removed from the left end of the US democrats, though it does have elements that would be regarded as socialist.
The third party as of today is the party managed by Geert Wilders. I’ll have a few things to say about them later on.
The fourth part of the dutch system right now is the CDA. I don’t like them – they are christians who would actively impress their values on dutch society. Over all they are socially conservative (though accepting of abortion) and maintain an economic assertive position. They were effectively halved in yesterdays elections, for complex systemic reasons. My guess is that those that vote conservative left the CDA, because they felt their interests better managed by the PVV of Geert. I’d call those faux-conservatives, and a considerable part of their concerns is a semi-racist (xenophobic) attitude towards Islam. The CDA is a by and large a party for closed-minded decent people, and it is divided along protestan and catholic lines.
A party I view with tolerance and sympathy is the D66. These are political realists; very liberty orient, hip, modern, economically assertive yet conscienably social. The typical well to-do-openminded dutch intellectual votes for them.
There are two parties in the dutch political landscapes that are openly and assertively socialist – The SP and Groen Links. Groen Links is environmentalist and politically realist, and I predict at some time in the future GL and D66 will merge. The SP however maintains a niche on the far left, and is associated with protests, lower classes, wellfare dependants and archaic socialism. While I am a card carrying member of the SP I voted GL this time around, because I strongly disagree with a few SP talking points, and I wanted to give GL a bigger opportunity to enter into negotiations for a coalition.
A bit of history
In the late 1990s a strong undercurrent of dissatisfaction became evident in the Netherlands. The current political leadership of the day misinterpreted that movement in 1999. Since WW2 the Netherlands had always had a fringe of sociopathic far right elements (Koekoek, CP, and Janmaat) and these were routinely locked out by the majority parties because of the strongly fascist, WW2 connotations. In my sordid past (mid 1980s) I occasionally met an activist in this far right scene, one Martijn, who was openly active in movements that openly admired Hitler and Nazism so the ‘cordon sanitaire’ of the far right by mainstream dutch politics made sense.
When in 2002 a new face appeared, the established parties made the massive mistake to interpret this upcomer as yet another post-WW2 racist. Pim Fortuyn was in fact resentful of maroccans, but that wasn’t the whole story. Pim was gay, and he openly boasted, with a twinkle in his eye, he fucked maroccan boys (some of which might have been underage, but no less eager) in darkrooms. Nevertheless Pim was indescribably charismatic and when a certain populist sentiment accumulate around him, he tapped something that had been dormant in dutch society, and which is best characterized by producerism. Pim was probably pretty far right wing, and more than a bit mentally unstable, but he would have been prime minister in 2003, if some lone imbecile hadn’t shot him dead in may 2002. Pim’s murderer set back the left by an average of 25-50 votes ever since and on the far right of dutch politics there has been a simmering hatred of leftists ever since the murder, far greater than even the normal producerist resentment of socialism and redistributive policies and intellectual elites.
I am of course an unmitigated and arrrogant bitch when I state that the undercurrent of angry voters voting PVV is by and large an issue of diminished capacity. It has long since been my theory that angry right wing voters (and many angry left wing voters for that matter) are in plain and simple terms ‘the less intelligent. Without getting into an argument over measurable IQ or what constitutes intelligence, I would invoke the specter of the Dunner-Kruging effect. I know what I state is politically incorrect and extremely insulting and condescending, and I ain’t the smartest apple in the basket myself, but I can’t call it any different. I really believe that a distinct demographic of existentially confused and embittered voters is by and large mobilized by their frustrations and incapacity, without really being able to see why they are angry – they are simply too dimwitted.
I have long since cherished an utterly unprovable conspiracy theory. I called his almost immediately, after the murder of Pim Fortuyn and when things proceeded almost exactly as I had anticipated I have long since extrapolated from this conspiracy theory. I don’t care if this theory is blatantly untrue, or even nonsensical, but I use it as a personal model to interpret undercurrents in dutch politics.
My theory is this
In 2002 prime minister Kok and some top parliamentary players, probably including leaders of the CDA, VVD, Queen Beatrix and PvdA came together in a secret meeting to express their worry about right wing populists. They had been frightened by the outpouring of radical rage over the murder of Pim Fortuyn. I believe this meeting to have occured (or a series of meetings very much according to these lines) somewhere in 2002, and they all expressed concern over many things – muslim radicalism versus societal rifts .. societal exclusion .. and far right radical populist movements that had the potential to detonate the dutch democratic system.
In effect, Pim Fortuyn would have if he survived to the general elections. Pim was an einzelganger and he ‘had his own ideas’. His election would have been spectacularly dangerous to the dutch democracy, but at least he was a reasonable guy. But killing Pim triggered a mobilization, polarization and radicalization of the far right. What was worse, the fortuyn movement was now effectively mainstream. Everybody mourned the death of pim, including explicit leftists such as myself.
At this time queen Beatrix would have expressed concern in private meetings, ‘how can we stop the festering underbelly of naive and impulse discontent’ in dutch society. I am sure many at the time would have shared my conclusion, referring to this discontent as ‘simple people’ expressing personal frustrations and anger. There was a new reality in the dutch system – far right charismatic figures can in theory mobilize a large amount of votes into the system, and use that discontent for very frightening purposes.
So, queen Bea would have asked the dignitaries of all major parties – ‘how can we put a stop to this’.
I sincerely have the (unproven) theory that somewhere in 2002-2003, after the debacle of a number of incompetent imbecile politicians staggering into parliament and making a mess of themselves, to ‘engineer’ a political stopgap. Something like a conduit block. I really think this was engineered.
Let me explain this –
Democracy is a fragile system, which can be gamed and exploited. Under certain conditions, the enemies of democracy (and decency) can enter the political system and wrench it to a standstill, or destroy it. In the turbulence of polarized western european political traditions, far left and far right has always been a dangerous and corrosive element. Clearly the Socialist Party will never govern, because behind the scenes established interests will never allow this. The SP would, despite all its sensible values and ideas, wrench the established economic system of the Netherlands to a standstill.
Those in charge, and yes I work from the unproven hypothetical model they exist, have actively engineered a political figure that had the consistency, strength of character, slightly odd personal charisma and nationalist loyalty to be this figurehead. Geert Wilders was personally colorful to a degree he would be able to postulate himself as both a candidate of such extreme statements ‘you would never be able to have in a coalition’, but appealing and ideosyncratic enough to be ‘a lightning rod for the simplistic angry rightist voter’. I see many signs of this.
Geert Wilders and the PVV has been created for this purpose. I do not believe they started out as merely ‘a bunch of renegade VVD people’. I think Geert is a security department trainee, a royalist, a radical nationalist and unswervingly loyal to this goal. There are glaring inconsistencies in what he used to say in the distant past and what he says now.
Geert started out as a stopgap, but now he is simply the symbolic wastebin for idiot voters. Let the plebs vote for him, let him parade around the top five list of voter dissatisfactions, while he gets instructions from a few ‘sensible heads’.
Geert is coalescing right wing votes. But look at his past – he used to live in Israeli kibbutzes and admires the Israeli system of apartheid. He is openly associated with the American Enterprise Institute, and he makes ludicrous speeches and claims about Islam and proposes things that are not possible, due to internation law. That’s why the simpletons vote for him. They don’t know any better. But this trick works so well, it almost looks engineered.
Until his movement ends up with 24 votes. And by then he has become so politically unpalatable half the parties won’t talk to him anymore, and he can’t take place in parliament. But then the lost ugly duckling comes home to his VVD roots, especially in a time that demands far reaching economic measures and there is talk of a thing called gedoogsteun. Now get this, I wouldn’t have thought this possible. Gedoogsteun is when the PVV allows the VVD and one other party to govern unchallenged, provided according to a list of preferences, but does not co-govern. (It was invented in Denmark.)
You have to be kidding me.
In effect, VVD (31 seats) would be able to pick and choose, get supported by those that provide tacit instructions to Geert (of which probably AIVD and Beatrixor someone behind the scenes would be active contributants) and the best result in terms of ecomic and social policies would be a coalition of VVD, Groen Links, D66. Now if only that coalition has ONE VOTE more it would probably have already become a reality. The other alternative will be no doubt involve a coalition with the CDA, where the CDA has not much to add in the mix. After all, they got halved.
Look at how the program of the PVV has included values and policies taken verbatim from the socialist party. It is surreal – why would a far right policies sneak in socialist policies (and all commentators state that the PVV is oddly wellfare-state minded in its policies…) unless it had an agenda of providing a bartering position in the formation of coalitions – especially one that favors verbatim the personal preferences of the royalty.
This in effect is what we know as good cop/bad cop. It is a scam, a setup. I see the reality and I see deception, staring back at me. I don’t know specifics and I will be never able to prove it, but my nagging suspicion is that Wilders is NOT what he pretends to be. The only thing I know for sure is that one and a half million dutch voted for a lightning rod, and how their vote is used may be diametrically different from what they think it is used for. Assuming these same voters have any consistent notion what they exactly want in the first place.
* Wilders ‘drops’ 65 pension age ‘hard point’