Right cobbles together senate coalition

Searchlight - July 2011

At the end of May, the 566 members of the Netherlands´ Provincial Assemblies chose the senators for the First Chamber of the Dutch parliament.

The vote was crucial for the minority government of the right-wing liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Christian Democrats (CDA) because without their majority, which included the senators of right-wing populist Geert Wilders´ Freedom Party (PVV), governing would be a problem.

The number of coalition senators dropped from 35 seats to 27 of the 75-seat First Chamber. Though even with the support of the ten Freedom Party senators they found themselves in a minority, they were able to scrape a majority by enlisting the support of the single member of the Christian fundamentalist Reformed Political Party (SGP). This party rejects the notion that women can enter politics, takes the Bible as its guide, is against abortion and thinks homosexuality is a disease. Despite its politically primitive ideas, the governing VVD sees no problem in pleasing them by proposing no more Sunday opening of shops, no adjustments of the law on insults to religion and no more extensions to abortion or euthanasia laws. Needless to say, the SGP and the Freedom Party are hostile to Islam but progressive dissidents inside the CDA just remain silent, even when Wilders runs amok in parliament with loud claims that "imported immigrants" have been used over the years as an "Islamic voting mob". In the twelve provinces of the Netherlands, the Freedom Party, despite being the main winner in the March elections, will only rule in Limburg, the home ground of Wilders and several other Freedom Party parliamentarians. The CDA, thus, will still, despite the huge losses it suffered during the elections, govern in ten of the twelve provinces, in nine of these together with their coalition partner, the VVD. In Limburg, the Freedom Party will join them, marking the first time it has taken responsibility in a democratically elected governing body. During "coalition" talks, they were unable to persuade the VVD and CDA to impose a halt to building mosques in Limburg and a ban on headscarves and "Halal meals" in provincial parliamentary buildings. They will, however, provide an officer with responsibility for "safety and livability". The first row with the opposition however has already occurred after the PVV´s chairman Laurence Stassen - who is also an MEP - called a proposed mosque in Roermond a "hate palace". In the meantime, Wilders went travelling abroad, to work on his so-called International Freedom Alliance project. This time, he was invited by the Christian right in Canada, who, like the SGP, take the Bible literally and are opposed to gay rights. In London, Ontario, Wilders spoke and recalled how Canadians helped liberate the Netherlands in WWII and said he was now coming to help ensure that Canada does not fall under the yoke of Islam. Of the 34 million-Canadian population only 2% are Muslims. At the end of May, an Amsterdam court ruled against the request of Wilders´ lawyer, Bram Moszkowicz, that the case against him should end because Wilders could not get a fair trial. The court again saw the anti-Islam videoclip Fitna that Wilders made in 2008 and which had led to 61 complaints to the police. After a few days, though, the public prosecutors asked for the dismissal of all charges against Wilders. Wilders´ remarks, they said, were about Islam not about Muslims and thus he could not be guilty of insulting a group because such an insult would have to be about persons. Michiel Pestman, one of the lawyers for the organisations that privately brought charges against Wilders, argued in contrast that the latter´s behaviour has led to more discrimination and more anti-Muslim violence. Wilders, argued Pestman, has ruined the climate for Moroccans and other non-Western immigrants and dishonoured their good name and faith. On 1 June Wilders, had the last word, however, telling the court: "I stand here because of my words. I spoke, I speak and I will continue speaking. Many have been silent, but not Pim Fortuyn, not Theo van Gogh and not me because the Netherlands is under threat of Islam, an ideology of hate and destruction." "Islam, " he claimed, "threatens Westerns standards and values... and silence is treason. Don´t turn off the light in the Netherlands. Dismiss the charges against me."

Jeroen Bosch for Alert! and Antifa-Net in Amsterdam