Saturday 2 October 2010

The Netherlands: A Coalition of the almost freedom

We might just have a government

The almost soporific coalition building process that separates the English-speaking governments like the UK and Australia from their continental European counterparts slowly came to a conclusion at the end of September in the Netherlands.

The elections of June produced a result that was not too far from expectations; the populist rhetoric of the right-wing elements had raked in dividends not enough to assume power but to become kingmaker.

With time the parties that cringed at getting into bed with this rather unpalatable bride found themselves in blushing embrace of each other copulating to create a bastard child that would have the town pointing fingers at it every time it came out to play.

The finger needs to scratch an itch

The Polder model concession-compromise deal-making political process in the Netherlands is under strain. It is like having three threatening holes in the dyke with Hans Brinker and friends plugging the holes with their fingers, however, one friend has got a nasty rash that needs a good scratch – that hole will not be plugged for long.

So the Christian Democrats (CDA)who lots big in the elections, the liberal sounding but right-wing VVD which would provide the Prime Minister and the PVV anti-Islam party have reached a deal with the PVV taking no cabinet responsibilities but able to bark and maybe bite from the periphery.

I would suppose there was a fear of allowing the PVV in government to prevent the sanctions that the Austrians suffered from the EU for going in coalition with an ultra-right-wing party years ago.

One only has to go through the agreement that makes up this coalition operating under the motto of “Freedom and Responsibility” to see that it has Geert Wilders paws, spittle and doggie poo all over it.

The message is the substance of horrid

Our intelligent being insulted with impunity that anything there represents freedom and the idea of responsibility is more along the lines of each Dutchman to his own.

Squaring populism with the realities of government is hard enough a task, if the Dutch would see what nasty hand they have been dealt is another thing.

Childcare and healthcare subsidies would be cut, probably in order to hit the pockets of the supposedly more fertile immigrants, it is however a measure that seems to gel with responsible handling of the economy in these tough times.

Immigrants emigrate with faces covered

Immigrants would now have to pay for their integration courses, they are not wanted and it would not be made easy for them to integrate, the Dutch language is hard enough; but why also give the immigrant a helping hand to belong amongst the Dutch?

In my over 10 years of living in the Netherlands and I live in Amsterdam, I have seen many things of Islamic orientation including streets in certain neighbourhoods designated alcohol free but I have never ever seen a woman in a burqa.

In fact, I am getting beyond myself here, I have never seen a person in a burqa, the sex of that person might have to be determined on closer inspection. Now, I regularly see people in full visor helmets which are for safety and protection – to the Muslim one might stretch the case for the burqa being for the safety of the person and the protection of that person’s honour.

No doubt, there is a conflict of civilisations where in the Middle-East the womenfolk are seemingly without expression but in the West the face is the link for any expression and communication, without the face and the eyes people become unsure of what and who they are dealing with.

The point I am trying to make is out of the 16 million inhabitants of the Netherlands we might not be able to count 1,000 people in a burqa and we are going to waste parliamentary time promulgating laws for a problem that does not exist but panders to a sense of fear that has been agitated to the extreme all around Europe.

Thinking it through

Most right-wing and populist rhetoric cannot stand intelligent scrutiny and it might well inform why education would get hit by this cabinet by the reduction of the duration of student grants from 4 to 3 years and the spending on arts and culture will be cut, lest I forget, integration tests are to be made more difficult.

For that last clause, the subtext is we don’t want immigrants, we will not help immigrants and those who strive to be integrated will have a tough time at it, the cultural schemes to help the process of integration will be starved of funds – basically, if you are not indigenous, start packing your bags – I am going nowhere, I am European.

If you work for the police or in the justice ministry you should leave your headscarf at home, I suppose the milliners can come up with amazing designs that make a mockery of that ban.

I had to lift this from the text, “Benefit cuts for people whose clothing or behaviour stops them finding work.” I suppose if I wore a suit for a cleaner’s job interview or I hate being sworn at I could be at risk.

All hot air to no particular end

You can go faster on the roads, you need to be a member of coffee shops to visit, prostitutes have to be old, Sundays will be kept holy for the 12 days where you can defile the temples in a year, stop and search might become indiscriminate, you could end up in prison longer, Israel will be a better friend and Europe will be getting less and much more eye watering stuff.

All of this to make the Netherlands a better place, the Dutch more comfortable with having their concerns addressed and the dawning of a great nation to rival the ranking of the Dutch in the golden age of the 17th Century – if you believed that you have been had so badly, you will never cut lose.

This arrangement according to my itch analogy earlier might only last a few months before it disintegrates for a new election where Geert Wilders might well have beguiled enough to become Prime Minister, especially those who do not notice that having voted for him their minimal wage is to be reduced.

That cabinet will only last a few months and hopefully we are on for a reset for the electorate to move back to the centre – the experience would be painful but a veritable lesson would have been learnt very well.


A summary of the coalition agreement


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CodLiverOil said...

Thanks for the commentary, I know very little about the politics of the Netherlands. I did hear about Mr Wilders and his anti-Islamic views, which did initially raise an eye-browe, as the Dutch are famed for their tolerance.

It is very interesting to get an African perspective from someone living there.

Akin Akintayo said...

Hello CodLiverOil,

The problem here as with other issues regarding Geert Wilders is that he now has power but no responsibility.

He exercises the power of free speech but says little of the consequences of his abuse of that power.

This needs to come to the fore as I wrote on Facebook, we may all have the right to drive on the roads but if someone ends up in the way, we find our brakes and use them not run them over because they are in our way intruding on our right to drive on the roads.



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