The provincial elections: what next?

The results of the provincial elections have kept commentators and newspaper editorial writers busy examining what the effect is likely to be on cabinet policy.

They all agree that the government will have to change its strategy, now it is very unlikely to command a majority in the upper house of parliament, and several ask how the PVV will react to a potential block on its anti-immigration plans.
The Volkskrant says that whatever the eventual make-up of the senate, ‘a black cloud’ hangs over the coalition.
Although the VVD and alliance partner VVD did what was asked of them, the CDA’s adventure in the current cabinet is costing them dear, the paper says.
‘The CDA is in the middle of a major crisis. Since Jan Peter Balkenende left, they have had a controversial leader (Maxime Verhagen) and there is still no party chairman… Someone has to take the party in hand or the recovery is going to take a very long time,’ the paper said.
NRC Handelsblad
Herman Staal, the NRC’s chief political correspondent, says Rutte was well aware that he would have to look for different support in both houses of parliament to get legislation on the statute books.
‘Nevertheless, this is a severe blow,’ he wrote. ‘Someone who warns about the threat of a Belgian situation cannot be pleased when the result does not go in his favour.’ Belgium has been without a government for over 250 days.
The two single seat parties – the fundamentalist Christian SGP and newcomer 50PLUS do not offer much solace either, Staal said.
‘The Liberals won’t be happy if the SGP starts demanding tough abortion laws and 50PLUS’s Jan Nagel can happily block everything that threatens to disadvantage older people.’
In particular, Nagel could try to change the cabinet’s plans to put up the state pension age, he pointed out.
The Telegraaf believes the government’s €1.8bn package of cuts could now be in trouble. The lack of a majority in the senate is particularly bad news for the PVV, the paper says.
‘Wilder’s party made tough agreements on immigration and public safety in return for his support on the economy,’ the paper points out. ‘That agenda is now likely to be blocked for a large part.’
Algemeen Dagblad
The AD says Rutte can be proud of himself. The Dutch political landscape is even more diverse and neither right nor left have a convincing majority.
However, controversial legislation – particularly the anti-immigration policies favoured by the PVV – is now unlikely to get support in the senate. And that means there is no point in Wilders supporting the minority cabinet any longer,’ the paper said.
Trouw says what voters want is now ‘totally clear’. They ‘are forcing the cabinet to tone down its policy’ the paper says in an editorial.
VVD leader Rutte, the CDA and PVV had consistently emphasised the importance of winning a majority and they will now have to accept the consequences of that not happening.
That is no bad thing, the paper says. ‘Dutch voters have shown that they do not want a sharp division between left and right. Rutte can now forget pushing through policies to make ‘right-wingers lick their fingers’.
The fact that the PVV vote fell by almost four percentage points and is now the fourth biggest party in the country shows exactly where the cabinet needs to adjust its policies – immigration and asylum.
‘Voters have shown that there are limits to the PVV hysteria,’ the paper said.

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