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From The Socialist newspaper, 13 July 2006

Netherlands: Coalition government falls apart

ON 29 June the Dutch right-wing coalition government collapsed. It was made up of the Christian-democrats (CDA) led by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, the right wing liberal party (VVD) and the so-called 'left-liberal' D66.

Ron Blom, Offensief (CWI, Netherlands)

This was the direct result of the crisis surrounding the withdrawal of VVD MP Hirsi Ali's passport by hardlline immigration minister Rita Verdonk back in May. (Hirsi Ali, a Muslim who was granted asylum in the Netherlands, arose to prominence over the last few years for her right-wing populist policies on immigrant issues and Islam.)

Following marathon discussions in parliament's lower house, the smallest of the three coalition government parties, the D66, after supporting a motion of censure (subsequently defeated) against Rita Verdonk, withdrew from the government.

At the moment, it seems there will be a CDA-VVD government, supported by the right populist 'List Pim Fortuyn' MPs until elections on 22 or 29 November.

The fall of the government was not just over Hirsi Ali but also resulted from the coalition's weak support in society. Though the government recently regained some support, due to economic recovery, there is still widespread hatred amongst the working class towards government policies of cut-backs and privatisations.

Large demonstrations and rolling strikes, over the last few years, against the biggest post-war cuts, showed the determined mood of the working class and drew together all sections of working people and the poor.

But the trade union leaders did not develop the struggle any further and step up industrial action, including general strikes, to force the government to back down.

A 'left coalition' government?

The union leaders hope for a good election result for the PvdA social democrats, and for the PvdA to form a coalition government with the Christian Democrats.

According to opinion polls, the Christian Democrats will lose eight seats, and the VVD, with its growing racist profile (Verdonk will be number two on the party's election slate), will gain one seat. The social democratic party (PvdA) stagnates in the polls but 'Green-Left' will grow from eight to eleven seats.

The left reformist Dutch Socialist Party is predicted to spectacularly increase its MPs from nine to 17.

For revolutionary socialists this means calling for a radical alternative and, at the same time, warning about illusions in a so-called 'left wing coalition' government, consisting of the PvdA, Green-Left and the SP (although an unlikely sceanrio).

It is clear from remarks made by the leaders of these three parties that such a coalition government would not decisively break with the policies of privatisation, liberalisation and war that come with the logic of capitalism.

Rebuilding the workers' movement, on a socialist programme, remains of the outmost importance. This means transforming the unions, so that they are democratic, combative mass organisations representing the working class. It also means building a mass political voice for the Dutch working class, the poor and immigrants.

Offensief members (CWI in Netherlands) participate in the Socialist Party, which has wide support amongst workers. We call for it to adopt bold socialist policies and to pursue an independent working class line. Alongside developments outside the Socialist Party, this would create the basis for a new mass socialist alternative.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 13 July 2006:

Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS: Uniting to fight the cuts

Hewitt hides from health protesters

Save our hospital

TUC lobby

Youth and Education

Low Pay,No Way!

Parents win High Court victory

Socialist Party campaigns

Welfare Reform Bill scapegoats disabled people!

Fighting the far-right BNP

Wales launches Campaign for New Workers' Party

International socialist news and analysis

Israeli regime’s air invasion of Lebanon threatens regional war

Another stolen presidency in Mexico?

Netherlands: Coalition government falls apart

Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

RMT conference: Striking back against privatisation

"Join the union to change the union"

Socialist Party feature

How the farmworkers got organised

National Blood Service: Fighting job cuts

Socialist Party review

'Storming heaven': Battle for Spain - The Spanish Civil War

Socialist Party National committee report

Build the Socialist Party


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