Thursday, 30 August 2012
The Dutch election, will voters turn to the left?
With the upcoming elections in Holland Dutch people are facing a choice of a fairly new party. The socialist party in Holland – no relation to the Socialist party I’m a member of I might add. This former Maoist party no fully reformist could gain big in the coming polls. The polls point to a neck-and-neck race between the SP and the liberal VVD for top spot. The political spectrum remains fractured, with no obvious majority emerging. But if the SP does become the biggest party Mr Roemer should have first shot at forming a cabinet, for the first time in his party’s 40-year history. Tracing its roots to the split between Soviet and Chinese communism, the SP was once proudly Maoist. But it shed its Marxist-Leninist ideology at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, replacing it with messages of solidarity and human dignity. It has since slowly gained ground, going from two MPs in 1994 to nine in 2002 and then 25 in 2006. It slid back to 15 in 2010, but under Mr Roemer’s leadership its popularity has bounced back. Some of this is down to Mr Roemer’s warm and friendly image and unforced man-of-the-people sense of humour that puts him in contrast with other Dutch politicians. But it also reflects a political agenda that responds to the fears of the voters. Without explaining how he would find the money, Mr Roemer promises both to safeguard the welfare state and to share the burden of paying for it more equally. Which I’m sure all sounds very good to Dutch voters who may be willing to give this party a chance at governing. But as Dutch capitalism continues to perform reasonably well in the Euro this can surely only last so long. The SP is not against the European Union, but would slash its budget in half. Nor is it against the euro, only against excessively strict budget-deficit rules (and, by implication, against cuts at home to finance bail-outs abroad). So how the SP would do if fully elected would be interesting as with many refromist parties they could be pushed in eitehr direction furtehr than they originally intended depending on the mass pressure from below. They may end up buckling and pushing through more cuts but we wait and see the outcome of this election. Not given much coverage so far could be quite an interesting one to watch. It is still clear though that Holland too needs a new workers party to provide working class Dutch people with a political voice if the SP does not succeeed in fighting for workers workers should start the process of forminga new mass workers party out of the trade unions. All in all the coming period will be a difficult one for Holland and the Dutch working class as the Euro crisis deepens further into 2013.