Thursday, June 3, 2010

Verkiezingen!

That's right, Verkiezingen (fair-KEYS-ing-n) -- Elections!


As you may have heard, the Dutch government dissolved in February over a disagreement about continued Dutch participation in the war in Afghanistan. This dissolution nonsense is foreign to American politics, but the basic idea is that the "government" is always a coalition of parties in Parliament who agree on a common platform and work together toward their shared goals. This is necessary because unlike the two-party system in the US, in which one is always a majority, there are a dozen political parties here so no party can have its way without cooperation. Apparently before the previous elections in 2006, the Labor party, PVdA (Partij voor de Arbeid) promised to pull out of Afghanistan once the present commitment expired. However, PVdA, as part of the governing coalition, did not get the other major party, CDA (Christen Democratisch Appèl, literally Christian Democratic Appeal, a centrist, conservative-leaning and actually not Bible-thumpingly Christian party), to agree to this pull out. In February, de poep sloeg de ventilator aan (the shit hit the fan) on the issue, no agreement could be made, and poof, the coalition dissolved.

The only solution to a dissolved coalition is a new election, after which a new pecking order is established among the parties, and they can negotiate new agreements to forge a better coalition. This election is coming next week, on June 9. And yes, that means that from February until now, the Netherlands has not had a functioning parliament. Apparently this is no problem?! As everywhere, voters are reactionary and have short memories, so in the current election CDA is expected to be punished, PVdA is likely to gain seats for standing up for the pull-out from an unpopular conflict, and various other parties will win or lose a bit. It will remain quite a mystery which (and how many -- it might require 4 parties this time) parties will join the first-place party to form a governing coalition.

I don't get to vote, of course, but if I did, the party best suited to me is Partij voor de Dieren (Party for the Animals)! Surprised? Me too, but that was the result of an interesting online election guide in which I had to agree or disagree with a bunch of issue questions. Go animals! Actually, as you can see below, my preference for the animals is really quite small. In fact, judging from this graph, there really isn't any party in the Netherlands for me. I suppose that means there's room in the political landscape for a new party - the Grumpy Americans Party (and we'll shop at the GAP).

1 comment:

MLG said...

but you never told us what your least favorite one on the list is- the Pirate Party? Yarrrr!