[Marxism] Dutch Vote Likely to Nudge New Government to the Left

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 24 22:23:04 MST 2006


("But the greatest surprise was the gain by the far left Socialist
Party, led by Jan Marijnissen, an outspoken advocate for the working
class. A former welder and once a Maoist, Mr. Marijnissen led the
party from its inflexible Communist roots to become a broad protest
movement that gained wide backing from people of various political
stripes, as well as artists and intellectuals.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
("His party appeared to win 26 seats, a leap from its previous 9 seats,
which makes it the third-largest bloc. The party?s symbol is a
tomato, which is meant to evoke a handy weapon to throw at fat cats
and power-hungry politicians.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
("He and Wouter Bos, the leader of the Labor Party, have both pledged
to fight for amnesty for the thousands of failed asylum seekers, many
of them in hiding, who are awaiting deportation from the Netherlands.")
======================================================

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/23/world/europe/23dutch.html

November 23, 2006
Dutch Vote Likely to Nudge New Government to the Left
By MARLISE SIMONS

THE HAGUE, Nov. 22 ? The Dutch appeared sure to keep their prime
minister, the conservative Jan Peter Balkenende, based on preliminary
results from the general elections on Wednesday.

But the results also showed that the new government would probably
shift to the left, signaling challenges to come on recent tough
anti-immigration measures and on cutbacks in social welfare programs.

With 98 percent of the votes counted, the prime minister?s Christian
Democrat Party remained the largest, but it lacked the votes to form
a government by itself. Its partner in government until now, the
rightist Liberal Party, lost ground, so Mr. Balkenende will have to
turn to the larger left-of-center Labor Party and others for help.

Negotiations to form a cabinet may take weeks. But the results of the
elections, which had a turnout of 80 percent, showed a more polarized
country. Small groups on both the far left and the far right made
large gains at the expense of the parties closer to the political
center.

Mr. Balkenende, 50, conceded that the results would mean difficult
negotiations to form a parliamentary majority.

His party, which appeared to win 41 of Parliament?s 150 seats, will
be deeply at odds with the Labor Party, with 32 seats, on critical
issues like social spending, taxes, pensions and immigration policy.

?We are the biggest, but the result is complicated,? Mr. Balkenende
told cheering supporters. ?We now need determination and cool heads.?

In a first for Europe, a party advocating animal welfare will have
two seats in Parliament. Marianne Thieme, the leader of the Party for
Animals, has campaigned to curb experiments and inhumane large-scale
industrial breeding and slaughter.

But the greatest surprise was the gain by the far left Socialist
Party, led by Jan Marijnissen, an outspoken advocate for the working
class. A former welder and once a Maoist, Mr. Marijnissen led the
party from its inflexible Communist roots to become a broad protest
movement that gained wide backing from people of various political
stripes, as well as artists and intellectuals.

Nicknamed the Wizard of Oss, after his hometown, he became famous
when he turned out to be one of the main architects of the Dutch vote
that rejected the European Constitution in June 2005.

His party appeared to win 26 seats, a leap from its previous 9 seats,
which makes it the third-largest bloc. The party?s symbol is a
tomato, which is meant to evoke a handy weapon to throw at fat cats
and power-hungry politicians.

?I?m a deeply happy man today,? Mr. Marijnissen said. ?It means that
several million people have said they want a more caring society.?

His group has called for more teachers, more care for the elderly,
free child care and more public transportation.

He and Wouter Bos, the leader of the Labor Party, have both pledged
to fight for amnesty for the thousands of failed asylum seekers, many
of them in hiding, who are awaiting deportation from the Netherlands.

But this does not mean the country has wholly changed its
anti-immigrant direction. The new far-right Party of Freedom, led by
Gerrit Wilders, won nine seats on an anti-immigration platform. One
of Mr. Wilders?s favorite slogans is, ?Stop the influence of Islam in
the Netherlands.? Many Dutch resent the recent arrival of close to a
million Muslims in their midst, many from Morocco and Turkey.

Mr. Balkenende has supported immigration restrictions and has urged
both Muslims and the Dutch to make greater efforts at integrating the
newcomers.

Above all, Mr. Balkenende has been a calming presence during the past
four years of turmoil, including two political murders and often
rancorous anti-immigration, anti-Muslim debates.

Long derided as dull and homey, it appears he and his party are still
favored by voters who want social peace and like his emphasis on the
need for more decency, less crime and more respect for civic values.

?I voted Balkenende because I don?t want a leftist government that
hits us with taxes and lets immigrants live on welfare,? said Loes
Fijneman, a storeowner.

?But he has to insist that Muslims respect our way of life.
Christians are also expected to abide by the rules in Muslim
countries.?
=========================

November 21, 2006

Dutch Elections
Could Produce
A New Coalition
By MATHIJS SCHIFFERS and ARIEN STUYT
November 21, 2006; Page A10

AMSTERDAM -- Dutch general elections set for tomorrow could give
Europe another government coalition of center-right and center-left
parties, mirroring the unwieldy alliance that has slowed overhauls in
Germany.

The current government coalition led by Prime Minister Jan Peter
Balkenende's Christian Democrats looks vulnerable as their
like-minded Liberal Party allies plummeted in the polls, bearing the
brunt of voter protest over recent welfare cuts and health-care
overhauls.

Unless the Liberal Party bounces back, Mr. Balkenende will have to
drop the Liberals and turn to one of the left-wing parties in order
to form a majority in parliament. That means a tie-up with either the
Labour Party or the Socialist Party, headed by former Maoist Jan
Marijnissen.

The latest polls show that the Christian Democrats will get 41 seats
out of 150, followed by the Labour Party with 35 and the Socialistic
Party with 26. The Liberals are expected to net 23 seats, down from
28 in the last election.

Such an outcome in the vote would be the latest example of European
voters forcing parties to work across the political divide. A
combination of center-right and center-left parties in Germany has
been hobbled by interparty bickering over health care, labor laws and
tax overhauls. Austria, whose parliament has been stymied since its
October election, might have to copy Germany's so-called grand
coalition government. And in Italy, tensions inside Prime Minister
Romano Prodi's multiparty center-left coalition have watered down
needed fiscal overhauls.

Dutch companies are hoping a move to the left will be avoided,
according to employers organization VNO-NCW. "We certainly hope that
the current policy will be pursued. On top of that, we aim for new
reforms, like lifting the pension age to 67 from 65 and more
flexibility in labor laws," said VNO-NCW Chairman Bernard Wientjes.

Trade unions, meanwhile, are hoping for change. "Employees' rights
have been eroded under the central-right cabinet and we want that to
stop," said Henk van der Kolk, chairman of FNV Bondgenoten, the
biggest union in the Netherlands.


November 17, 2006 2:37 p.m. EST

Dutch to Pursue Burqa Ban
Associated Press
November 17, 2006 2:37 p.m.


THE HAGUE -- The Dutch government announced plans Friday for
legislation banning full-length veils in public places and other
clothing that covers the face -- putting the Netherlands at the
forefront of a general European hardening toward Muslim minorities.

The Netherlands, once considered one of Europe's most welcoming
nations for immigrants and asylum seekers, is deeply divided over
moves by the government to stem the tide of new arrivals and compel
immigrants to assimilate into Dutch society.

"From a security standpoint, people should always be recognizable and
from the standpoint of integration, we think people should be able to
communicate with one another," Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk told
national broadcaster NOS. She said the ban also would apply to
headgear like ski masks and full-faced helmets.

Basing the order on security concerns apparently was intended to
respond to warnings that outlawing clothing like the all-enveloping
burqa, worn by some Muslim women, could violate the constitutional
guarantee against religious discrimination.

The main Dutch Muslim organization CMO has been critical of any
possible ban. "This is a big law for a small problem," said Ayhan
Tonca of the CMO He estimated that as few as 30 women in the
Netherlands wear a burqa and said the proposed law could be
unconstitutional if it is interpreted as targeting Muslims.

In the past, a majority of the Dutch parliament has said it would
approve a ban on burqas, but opinion polls ahead of national
elections Nov. 22 suggest a shift away from that position, and it is
unclear if a majority in the new parliament would still back the
government-proposed ban.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, a lawmaker with the opposition Labor Party which
does not support a general ban, condemned the proposal. "I'm very
much worried that in the Muslim community many people will see this
as Islam bashing," he said.

Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen, also of the opposition Labor party, said
he would like to see burqas disappear, although he did not advocate a
ban. "From a viewpoint of integration and communication, naturally
it's very bad," he told reporters. "You can't speak with each other
if you can't see each other, so in that sense, I'd say myself the
less [it's worn], the better."

The issue has resonance throughout Europe. Former British Foreign
Secretary Jack Straw recently caused a stir by saying he wants Muslim
women to abandon the full-face veil -- a view endorsed by Prime
Minister Tony Blair. In France, the center-right's leading
presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy has increasingly been adopting
some of the rhetoric of the extreme-right.

Germany, also with a large Muslim immigrant community, has a law
banning teachers in public schools from wearing head scarves, but no
burqa ban. In Belgium, one mayor banned burqas, but there is no
general ban in force across the country.

Copyright © 2006 Associated Press







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