As we approach the November elections, a new party has emerged as a realistic coalition candidate. Jan Marijnissen’s Socialist Party has suddenly got religion and now claims to be a contender for the votes of disaffected Christian Democrats.
The SP had already dropped its demands for a super tax for the super rich and the nationalisation of essential industries. Now Marijnissen has gone so far as to explicitly distance the party from its long-held mainstays: the abolition of the monarchy and withdrawal from NATO. ‘If 80 to 90 percent of the Dutch population wants to keep the monarchy, who are we to deny them. And banging on about NATO was just so seventies,’ he said in a recent interview. Perhaps sensing that there may be even more votes to be had, the once colourful Marijnissen is now adopting the vacuous phrases used by prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende. Marijnissen as well now believes we should all accept our own responsibility and has called for more decency and sense of history, whatever that means. Marijnissen’s turnaround is puzzling, but then he is probably eyeing a post in that nest of left-wing activism, Brussels. There are few things worse than a reformed smoker, but a reformed socialist is definitely one of them.