Senate set to get more political

The results of the senate election on Monday make it inevitable that the upper house of parliament will operate on a more political level, commentators said after the votes had been counted.

The ruling alliance between the conservative Liberals, Christian Democrats and anti-Islam PVV failed to win an overall majority in the 75-seat house. But concessions already made on Sunday shopping and blasphemy laws make it likely the fundamentalist Christian SGP will support the cabinet on most issues.
The SGP, which opposes votes for women and believes homosexuality is a sin, has one seat in the upper house and its support will be crucial.
In all, four groups have just one vote in the senate: As well as the SGP, the support of the pro-animal PvdD, 50Plus and the independent regional parties could hold the balance of power on some issues.
Prime minister Mark Rutte said after the vote that no deal has been struck with the SGP and that the alliance would have to work to win support for its policies.
‘There are lots of [policy] overlaps with the SGP and that will be good to work with. But the same goes for other parties,’ Rutte is quoted as saying by the Telegraaf.
However, Labour leader Job Cohen said the results of the provincial elections mean the minority cabinet is being held to ransom by the SGP as well as the PVV. ‘And that is not good for the country,’ he told Nos television.
Stef Blok, who heads the VVD in parliament, said the results laid a solid foundation for the cabinet. More parties than the SGP can provide a cabinet majority, he pointed out.
PVV leader Geert Wilders said the result was positive and that the SGP’s support was a good base to begin with. ‘But the real test will be realising measures outlined in the alliance agreement,’ he said, using the microblogging service Twitter.
Wilders agreed to support the minority coalition in the lower house in return for tougher immigration rules. They will need majority support to get through the senate.
Labour’s leader in the senate Marleen Barth said she would not be happy if the coalition teamed up with the SGP. ‘If it was up to that party, I would not be here,’ she told the Volkskrant.

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