Netherlands: establishment crushed in local election, seizes power anyway

This week’s establishment lesson in excluding the competition from power comes from Rotterdam: following city council elections last March, all establishment parties are joining up in a coalition government, excluding all newer political parties including the election winners, Leefbaar Rotterdam (Liveable Rotterdam), which won 11 seats, more than twice what the runners-up managed (5 seats).

The local government will be formed by a coalition of six (6!) parties, while the whole city council will be made up of only ten. The mainstream-right (ergo: left-leaning) VVD (People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) and Leefbaar Rotterdam wanted to talk with D66 (a center party, but extremely pro-establishment) and either GroenLinks (GreenLeft) or PvdA (basically the Labor party), but the left-wing parties shut the door on ‘populist’ (whatever that means) Leefbaar Rotterdam and with that extremely anti-democratic gesture they managed to seize power and left 26% of Rotterdam’s population in the cold.

Coalition governments are the norm in The Netherlands, both nationally and locally. Governments often consist of three parties, recently in a more splintered political landscape we have been seeing four parties joining up. A six party coalition is extreme. Leaving the party which crushed all others in the vote out of power is disgusting. The city used to have five “Aldermen” (Wethouders) alongside the Mayor in the local government. The new local government with have ten! A ridiculous amount, which means more chauffeurs, more assistants, more salaries, more civil servants, more prestige projects and more government overreach.

The kicker: coalition governments have “neutral” individuals to moderate the negotiations. In this case one of the two “informateurs” was Paul Rosenmöller, former leader of the GreenLeft party and notorious for his part in the demonizing of Pim Fortuyn (pictured), who made his partisan-political debut for Leefbaar Rotterdam, propelling the party to greatness. He injected criticism of Islam, open borders, multiculturalism, the establishment and the EU into the political debate in The Netherlands – and permanently changed Dutch politics. He was forced to leave Leefbaar Rotterdam, formed his own political party and then tragically assassinated; many on the right blame establishment politicians and pundits, including Rosenmöller, for creating a climate which condoned and incited violence against Fortuyn. And now Rosenmöller gets the establishment ‘honor’ of burying Fortuyn’s political heritage along with him. An utter digrace.

This is just a taste of how far the establishment is willing to go to keep us, undesirables, out of power. This illustrates how huge Brexit has been for the right in the west. How huge the Trump presidency is. And the right-wing victories in Italy, Slovenia and Austria. (Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were always doing fine.) The narrow-miss in France and the big wins in The Netherlands and Germany. But the establishment is not going down without a fight. Judging by their arrogance here, they are willing to keep treading on the people until the people finally snap. Let’s hope it won’t come to that and the ballots will speak so clearly that there is no stopping us anymore.