Column | Rutte’s fear of the PvdA and GroenLinks voters’ union is not so crazy

Out of nowhere, the VVD is suddenly afraid of the progressive left, more afraid than of the (reactionary) right. PVV, FVD, JA21 and BBB are according to the Bearing pointer accounting for 29 percent. GroenLinks and PvdA together do not exceed 15 percent. Yet party leader Rutte and former DSM pension director Schippers fear a political reincarnation of Den Uyl more than of alive and kicking Wilders and Eerdmans cs The VVD has that fear even in a windbreaker sublimated: “with green and red, the working Netherlands pays itself blue.”

Is that fear pathetic? Yes and no. In 1977, Den Uyl’s party on its own already won three times more voters (34 percent) than GroenLinks and PvdA combined in 2021. But if the VVD leadership were to play a campaign game – panic about a “left-wing cloud” in front of the stage sowing, in the hope of reaping apostates on the right – then this shows deep uncertainty about one’s own position of power after approximately 35 years of government power since 1977.

Anyway, thanks to the hysteria of Rutte and Schippers, the progressive-left alliance, which was finalized last week in Den Bosch, is suddenly a factor.

That raises at least one crucial question. Will GroenLinks and PvdA be able to concentrate on the main issue in the coming years or will they continue to get lost in all kinds of well-intentioned side issues? Are they prepared for power politics because they want to become the largest in the tradition of the PvdA, or do they shy away from it because, in accordance with the rainbow model of GroenLinks, they want to please all smaller voter groups?

In theory, they have known themselves to main lines. In the essay Taking control of our future together from the scientific offices of both parties – it is unknown which dry stubble came up with this title – echoes of the social-democratic manifesto can be heard For the quality of life from 1963. That’s not surprising. Then the mind slowly shifted from materialistic prosperity to immaterial well-being. Now the climate crisis and the fourth industrial revolution are forcing a ‘green welfare economy’ in which not the quantity but the quality of labor is central again. The fundamental threat posed by the ‘authoritarian blackmail regimes’ in Russia and China is also a parallel with then.

But what about in practice? The cultural differences between PvdA and GroenLinks are greater than they appear on paper. The PvdA is an association of older alderman socialists, who can diesel for a long time but do not accelerate quickly. GroenLinks is a youthful club that likes to mobilize for ‘meet-ups’ and other events, but believes that each individual development ambition can be handled by motion.

Priorities can get lost in this mix of different administrative cultures. This became apparent, for example, during the vote last summer in the Senate on the European trade agreement with Canada. The PvdA saw a new geopolitical fact, which GroenLinks was still ignoring at the time: namely that Russia’s war against Ukraine is also a campaign against ‘our’ constitutional democratic order and therefore calls for new allies.

But if the PvdA recognizes its demographic weakness and GroenLinks dares to be a bit older, if they are prepared for cautious coalition politics, then they will be the largest to provide a prime minister. That is the main thing, at least for Dutch people who have no appetite for the reactionary right-wing alternative.

Never since the Second World War has the Netherlands had such a long period without a left-wing Prime Minister as this century. And never has it known one and the same prime minister for so long. You can also exaggerate the need for continuity.

The panic of Rutte and Schippers, whether or not played, is not so crazy.

Hubert Smith is a journalist and historian. He writes a column here every other week.