Campaign trail: the Muslim vote, foreign media frenzy and the king

Just five more days campaigning and the Netherlands will go to the polls to elect the members of its 150-seat second chamber. Here’s a round up of the latest campaign news.

Muslim call to vote

In total 62 Muslim organisations in the Netherlands, mainly mosques, have issued a joint statement urging their followers to use their vote in next week’s election. Imams are also reinforcing the message in Friday prayers.

‘Voting is something a Muslim cannot ignore,’ the statement said. By not voting, it could disadvantage their presence in the Netherlands and boost parties which want to ‘limit the rights and freedoms of specific Muslims and encourage racism and discrimination’.

Former prime minister defects

Former Christian Democrat prime minister Dries van Agt has turned his back on his former party because of its support for Israel’s illegal settlements. The CDA voted against a motion calling for the treaty of association with Israel to be suspended until Israel stops its building programme.

‘I can no longer embrance this half-baked blind-eye policy towards Israel’s occupation and colonisation,’ the former prime minister says.

Get out and vote

A group of five young Dutch creatives have put together a short film to encourage the four million under-30s in the Netherlands to vote. ‘Don’t fuck up’ features young British and US voters urging their Dutch counterparts to use their voting rights with a warning about what happened in Britain (Brexit) and the US (the election of Donald Trump as president).

Keeping out the king

Efforts by the VVD and CDA to bring the king back into the cabinet formation process have failed because of disagreement about how this should happen, according to the Volkskrant.

Prior to 2012, the monarch took the lead in appointing an ‘informateur’ to start off the formation process but now parliament itself chooses the chief negotiator. Two of the king’s senior advisors – Piet Hein Donner (CDA) of the Council of State and Ankie Broekers-Knol (VVD) who leads the senate – wanted the king to be briefed at key stages of the process.

Parliamentary chairwoman Khadija Arib has refused to meet their wishes and a majority of MPs say the king should have no political influence whatsoever.

Gays for GroenLinks

While the anti-Islam PVV topped the popularity stakes among the country’s gay and lesbian population in 2012 (according to the GayKrant, then edited by 50Plus leader Henk Krol), GroenLinks now wins the gay vote.

A new poll by I&O Research and quoted by the Volkskrant  puts GroenLinks on 14% support, followed by D66 and the VVD, both on 13%. Backing for the PVV is now at 10%.

GroenLinks is also the most popular party among young voters while the Christian Democrats take the lead among the over-65s, I&O says.

Labour of love

There has been no improvement in support for the Labour party (PvdA), part of the current coalition but currently hovering at around 12 seats in most polls. New leader Lodewijk Asscher has failed to ignite voters  and has not done well in television debates.

The party has now taken out a two-page advert in the Volkskrant in which Asscher outlines the party’s position and its role in the current government. ‘Vote with your head and your heart,’ the article concludes.

The paper’s political commentator Xander van der Wulp points out that campaigning requires getting your message across in a few words. ‘He apparently needs a page and a half,’ Van der Wulp said.

Foreign media frenzy

The number of foreign journalists who have registered to cover the election results is double that of 2012 and there is interest from all over the world, says broadcaster NOS.

Media organisations in Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, China and Portugal are among those who have reported for duty, says city press spokesman Herbert Brinkman.

However, a report on Belgian channel VRT about the Amsterdam district of IJburg has caused an outcry in the area itself. The Belgian crew was escorted around by a PVV supporter who said IJburg was in decline and had become radicalised – much to the anger of other locals.

Meanwhile, broadcaster RTL has made a compilation of some of the foreign coverage.