More than three months ago, it promised to be an exciting day for Dutch politics. The VVD and the PvdA held a party congress and GroenLinks would announce the results of a members’ consultation. There was little excitement about the liberals beforehand: the Great Smoother would laugh off any criticism and make sure that the members of his party supported him. Saturday, June 11, it was all about those two left-wing parties. Would they finally decide on far-reaching cooperation? Would they agree to the plan for a joint list for the Senate? And would they – that was not put to the vote, but they were mused about it – maybe even merge?
It all went a little differently. Well, the left-wing parties voted en masse for cooperation (80 percent GL, 77 percent PvdA), but the attention unexpectedly went to the VVD. De Smoother was not having his day, did not give a flaming speech to defend his minister who had been visited at home by angry farmers and saw Congress pass a motion against the cabinet’s nitrogen policy. No direction, no leadership, but baked pears. Since then, the government has stumbled from crisis to crisis. Nobody talked about the left-wing collaboration anymore.
And still not. Well, except for this: ‘Setting up a joint list appears to run into too many statutory and practical problems, so we had to conclude after careful research.’ The joint list of GL and PvdA for the Senate, for which more than three quarters of both parties had voted, will therefore not be made after all. Because of ‘statutory and practical problems’. For real? Before submitting their plans to the members, were the parties not aware of these statutory and practical reasons? If you really want to, you can also solve practical and statutory problems. Or is everything fixed for eternity with these left-wing parties?
It is also a pity. This country is bursting with problems, to which the answers seem only to be either the cabinet’s lethargic laissez-faire market thinking or reactionary, far-right xenophobic. You can barely hear it on the left. No wonder that people who really don’t like Rutte still pray that he stays in the saddle. Because the alternative seems even worse to them. That’s idiotic, but also understandable. Because the left doesn’t offer the alternative. Because parties with a long tradition would rather keep their identity and revel in their own right than offer a great left alternative together. An alternative that ensures that energy giants do not make mega profits while citizens cannot pay their gas bills. That ensures that staff are not exploited with silly contracts. An alternative that ensures that nature is doing well and that farmers with fewer animals can earn a good salary. An alternative that gives citizens equal opportunities and good education. An alternative that will return to old-fashioned public housing. An alternative that does not pass its own bad policy on to asylum seekers who have fled terrible wars.
it is not that hard. In the (yes, I know) polls, GL and PvdA together are already the second largest party in the country. With a strong list and a new party leader (Moorman?), such a new party can easily become the largest. Should PvdA and GL have the courage and not linger in nostalgia?