Monday 17 May 2021

DutchNews.nl: The need for speed

The winning VVD and PvdA need to get their skates on and make sure we have a new coalition before the winter, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe.

Putting together the stable government the Netherlands needs from the fragmented political landscape is going to be a tricky job although an alliance between the victorious VVD and Labour seems unavoidable.

Throughout the campaign VVD leader Mark Rutte emphasised a coalition with the PvdA is ‘a very long way off’. But without Labour, Rutte will find it very difficult to form an alliance.

Spent force

Last time round he managed to pursuade the Christian Democrats to link up with Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam PVV but that is not an option this time -.the CDA has made that perfectly clear and the PVV collapse means the party is a spent political force.

But it will not be easy to put together a coalition agreement with the PvdA either. Both parties may be in general agreement on Europe but are divided on the state pension age, mortgage tax relief and healthcare cuts – all issues which will be central to those talks.

The Netherlands needs a government with a mandate as soon as possible but the process of working out a four-year political programme may well take months.

Horsetrading

You can forget the manifestos and televised debate statements. Once the election is over, the real campaigning begins – it is the political horsetrading that comes next which really counts. Building a coalition is a matter of give and take – you agree to cutting mortgage tax relief and better redundancy packages and I’ll accept a more relaxed attitude on the budget deficit and pension reform.

And coalition agreements throw up the strangest new policies as well. The main legacy left by Rutte’s first cabinet is a new speed limit of 130 kph on many motorways – a policy which did not feature in either the VVD or CDA’s election plans.

Given the Netherlands’ current problems, what is really needed is speed this time round.

 

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