Saturday, June 12, 2010


The Guardian tells us that the Dutch election result produced an even more fragmented result than usual but the outcome might be a good thing. Coalitions are a new thing in Britain (not precisely if one looks at nineteenth century history but let that pass) but in the Netherlands it is the stuff of politics. Why that should be considered something to emulate is not clear.

Never mind. The Guardian does not see this result as a good outcome for the Right or the Centre Right. No, indeed.
A less exciting but more accurate reading of Wednesday's result would be that the votes of the centre-left parties held up, while those of the right splintered both to the Liberals and the Freedom party. Indisputably the Christian Democrats were the big losers. In an election dominated not by immigration but by the economy and the deficit, Dutch voters could therefore be said to have opted for fiscal austerity with a social conscience, much as British voters did a month ago. This leaves the Liberals well placed to govern with the centre-left in what would here be called a progressive coalition.
Furthermore, let us not get over-excited about Geert Wilders's party.
Dutch voters have not given Mr Wilders a mandate to govern, and he should certainly not now be rewarded with one.
Given the Dutch system, that is not exactly accurate since a third party is often in the Cabinet. In Britain, on the other hand, the Lib-Dims were most definitely not given a mandate to govern, coming third and losing seats. Yet, somehow, they have been rewarded with that mandate and the Guardian seems very happy about that.

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