Senate elections: fundamentalist role dominates the editorials

The papers all emphasis that the results of Monday’s senate election mean the minority government needs the help of the fundamentalist Christian SGP as well as the anti-Islam PVV to pass controversial legislation.

The ruling alliance of the VVD and Christian Democrats, together with the PVV, fell one seat short of an overall majority, forcing it to look elsewhere for support.
And this weekend’s decision to pull out of legislation which would end the ban on blasphemy shows the VVD is looking straight at the staunchly Christian party – a fringe group which does not believe in votes for women and says homosexuality is a sin.
‘Dependent on one black stocking’ is the headline in NRC Next, alongside a drawing of a black sock hanging from a washing line. The headline refers to the sober attire of the men and women of the staunchly Protestant SGP, and whose party now effectively holds the balance of power in the senate.
‘The Liberals are depending on a party which sees Liberalism as the biggest threat to society’ is the paper’s headline on the inside pages.
It points out that both the Liberal democrats D66 and the youth wing of the VVD have raised questions about the party’s Liberal principles.
The party has already agreed not to expand Sunday shopping as a concession to the SGP, and agreed not to ban blasphemy. ‘How many more Liberal principles are to be abandoned over the next few years?’ the paper asks.
In its editorial, the Telegraaf says the opposition parties have lost and the cabinet can continue to operate as normal. And an alliance with the SGP is the price the coalition must pay for running a poor election campaign [for the provincial councils in March].
In particular immigration minister Gerd Leers can press ahead with measures to restrict immigration, with SGP support, the paper states.
Nevertheless, there is broad agreement the system for electing the senate is incomprehensible and the touting for left-over votes should not happen again. The system has its charm and the national interest has not been damaged, the paper says. ‘But it does not deserve a beauty prize.’
The Volkskrant says in its editorial there is nothing wrong with the cabinet depending on the SGP but calls on the prime minister to put his cards on the table.
Rutte can make whatever deals with the SGP he likes, and has already made several, but he must also be open about what he is up to, the paper says. At the moment, there is a strong smell of behind-the-scenes trading hanging round the cabinet.
Everyone can see the government needs the SGP but voters are being left guessing at the deals which have been struck.
‘The cabinet can continue, on a day to day basis’, is the headline in Trouw, which argues the minority government will have to find different partners in the senate to ensure some legislation is passed.
The paper carries a short interview with Marleen Barth, who will lead the 14-strong PvdA (Labour) delegation in the senate. She accuses the VVD of selling out its principles by becoming dependent on the SGP.
But Loek Hermans, who leads the VVD in the senate, says the SGP is close to the ruling alliance in terms of finances and public safety. ‘But there are areas in which we are diametrically opposed’ and may need the support of other parties,’ he said.
The AD carries an interview with the sole SGP representative in the senate, with the headline ‘Don’t put pressure on me’.
Gerrit Holdijk shrugs his shoulders when accused of being a hostage taker. ‘I don’t think in terms of power but in terms of responsibility,’ he says. The senator, who has been in the upper house for over 20 years, will continue to examine legislation from both sides ‘as I have always done’, the AD reports.
But political editor Hans van Soest says in an editorial the role of the SGP is bigger than prime minister Mark Rutte admits. The prime minister is not being straight when he says the decision to continue the ban on blasphemy is unconnected to the need for support in the senate.
And, Van Soest continues, the way this informal alliance is has come together is rightly making voters more cynical about politics in general.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation