Tomorrow, the 15th March, we in the Netherlands go to the polls to vote for our political candidate of choice. Note that I didn’t say “to vote for our next government” – with 27 political parties to choose from on the ballot paper, it is inevitable that we’ll end up with yet another coalition government.
As well as the mainstream parties (8 or 11, depending on your definition of “mainstream”), the parties also include the “Non-Voters” party (12 candidates), the “Pirate Party” (with 37 candidates) and the “Jesus Lives” party (6 candidates). Somehow, I don’t think Jesus stands much of a chance. Perhaps he needs to hitch his wagon to the “Political Calvinist Party” – the evangelical Christian party, with their 30 candidates – not one of them a woman, because a woman’s place is of course in the home, and certainly not in politics. Yes, it’s the 21st century, but clearly not for some people.
And as usual, Geert Wilders has been generating more heat than light. His manifesto – actually a list of 11 bullet points covering less than one side of an A4 page – lays bare his anti-Muslim and anti-EU soul. He must be fully aware that he hasn’t got a hope of forming a government – few other parties will touch him with a bargepole in a coalition – and one suspects that he only does it to provoke. What is worrying is that his probable strategy – to pull the other parties to the right – appears to be working, at least in the case of the VVD, led by the current prime minister, Mark Rutte. Wilders appears to have goaded Rutte successfully into matching his rhetoric. Rutte is increasingly trying to appeal to Wilders’ PVV voters, and that’s a very dangerous, and populist, game.
Then we have Erdoğan butting in, and inflaming the passions of the Dutch citizens who have dual Dutch and Turkish nationalities. His “Nazi” rhetoric hasn’t exactly helped Dutch-Turkish relations of late, but then, one suspects, it wasn’t intended to.
And on top of all this, our newspaper, de Volkskrant, has been full of vox-pop pieces on floating voters, there seems to be a veritable flood of them. I confess that I am bewildered by the number of people who seem incapable of making up their minds. The choices are clear, at least to me. Tomorrow I’ll be following in my father’s footsteps and voting left-wing. He was a lifelong socialist, as am I, and believed in a caring society. My vote will be going to the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA), and to a woman. Sorry about that, Calvinists.