In order to properly prepare you for what’s going to happen after the elections it’s time to talk about coalitions. Dutch parties and voters have been thinking about them from the start, and they are everyone’s number 2 priority (number 1 being “How do I get as many votes as possible?” or “Which party shall I vote for?”)
Today we continue with Right.
Generally speaking, the right block is slightly larger than the left block, and that’s why a right-wing coalition is marginally more likely than a left-wing one.
From 1959 to 1989 the right-wing coalition of CDA (or its predecessors) combined with VVD was the natural state of affairs. Only the Den Uyl (1973-1977) and Van Agt II (1981-1982) governments were exceptions to this rule. Right-wing voters still long for that era, and they are have the curious habit of completely ignoring the fact that CDA+VVD lost its majority back in 1994.
Nowadays the right block may very well get a majority, but that includes the extreme-right party of the day; LPF in 2002 and 2003, PVV since 2006.
Supposing the right wins a majority (not impossible), the right-wing coalition is wholly dependent on Wilders. Does he want to enter the coalition? And do CDA and VVD want him to enter the coalition?
To start with that first question: I don’t know. I used to think that Wilders wanted to avoid governmental responsibility at all costs, because that would allow him to continue his extremely succesful streak in the opposition, as well as picturing himself as being excluded by a cordon sanitaire of all other parties. This could give him serious opportunities in the next elections, at least among protest voters.
But protest voters aren’t enough, so Wilders is tacking. Apparently he has decided that a true breakthrough from the extreme right to the more moderate right hangs on getting moderate right-wing voters, and these voters want a party that will take governmental responsibility. Thus the chances of Wilders entering a coalition have become larger. (Of course, that will disappoint some voters on the extreme right, who may decide to stay at home.)
But supposing Wilders says Yes, do CDA and VVD want a right-wing coalition? I’m pretty sure that the right-wingers within the VVD do. But does the centrist wing want it? And, even more importantly, does the CDA?
I’m inclined to say No to the last question. A late February poll found that a majority of CDA voters does not think that the PVV becomes more suitable for government even when Wilders is willing to compromise on nearly everything. So I expect the CDA to reject Wilders in the end.
Besides, Wilders has stated time and again he will not compromise on pension age: it should remain at 65. This curious left-wing talking point will probably not win him many more voters, but it might significantly impede the creation of a coalition with the other right-wing parties. This point is going to become an albatross around Wilders’s neck. So I expect the VVD to reject Wilders in the end, too, unless he compromises on this point, the single one he still considers non-negotiable.
All in all I think a right-wing coalition is not very likely, even if CDA, VVD, and PVV get a majority. The country’s headed for a centrist coalition with parties from both blocks. In the next three entries in these series we’ll discuss the three possible centrist coalitions.
<— Know your coalitions — Left | Know your coalitions — Centre-right —>
This is the political blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer, in Amsterdam. It’s a hobby blog where he follows Dutch politics for the benefit of those twelve foreigners that are interested in such matters, as well as his Dutch readers.