Chaos in the Netherlands: The Unyielding Grip of Rutte's Coalition Despite Its Demise

02 mei 2024 | Michael van der Galien

Welcome to the bizarre political theatre that is the Netherlands under Mark Rutte! His fourth government officially collapsed on July 7, 2023, yet Rutte clings to power like a dictator past his sell-by date. More baffling still is that his coalition, despite being a corpse in the eyes of the electorate, continues to implement its detested centre-left agenda. This is not just a minor political hiccough; it is a brazen disregard for the democratic process.

Why does this matter? Because the Dutch people delivered a resounding rebuke to Rutte’s coalition by propelling populist titan, Geert Wilders, and his PVV party to a landslide victory in the elections of November 22, 2023. The message was crystal clear: enough of the old, in with the bold. Yet, here we are, trapped in a political purgatory where the old guard refuses to relinquish control.

Initially, Rutte declared his retirement from the prime ministerial race, and his supposedly liberal party, the VVD, appointed Dilan Yesilgöz—a Turkish-Dutch politician—as their new leader. Interestingly, Yesilgöz, during her campaign, showed some spine by breaking ranks and entertaining the notion of partnering with Wilders—something previously unthinkable given the VVD's participation in a cordon sanitaire against the PVV.

Geert Wilders Triumphs—Yet Stymied
The prospect of Wilders steering the ship, especially to correct the monumental failures of Rutte’s era—chiefly uncontrolled mass migration—electrified the Dutch electorate. Wilders’ PVV demolished the competition, claiming 37 seats in the 150-seat Parliament, starkly overshadowing Yesilgöz’s VVD which plummeted to a mere 24 seats. The former powerhouse had been decisively dethroned.

One would expect that such a clear electoral mandate would result in a swift formation of a new government, with Wilders at the helm, ready to implement the will of the people. Instead, what followed has been nothing short of a farce. Months of negotiations have yielded nothing but stagnation. Pieter Omtzigt’s new party, NSC, initially resisted aligning with Wilders, demanding assurances about constitutional rights—a clear jab at Wilders' tough stance on Islam.

This resistance from Omtzigt is indicative of a broader reluctance among traditional parties to cede power to a populist leader who threatens to upend the status quo. The irony is palpable—Wilders, often dismissed as a fringe voice, now holds the keys to potentially transformative change, yet is blocked by those who claim to champion democratic principles.

The Blame Game Escalates
Why this grotesque delay? The culprit is painfully obvious: the establishment parties, with NSC as their cultural and ideological spearhead, are determined to prevent a PVV-led government at all costs. Their strategy? Procrastinate until the public’s attention wanes, then quietly drop the talks, hoping not to bear the brunt of public outrage.

Meanwhile, Wilders, ever the provocateur in public, has shown a surprising willingness to compromise in private. Whether it is acknowledging Islam as a religion, supporting unrestricted aid to Ukraine, or slightly tempering his stance on mass immigration to avoid EU sanctions, Wilders is playing ball. Yet, every day the traditional parties scrounge for excuses to abandon negotiations, fearful of empowering a figure who does not play by their elitist rules.

Rutte’s Ambitions and the NATO Conundrum
But there is perhaps a more cynical play unfolding behind the scenes. If the VVD, NSC, and BBB form a coalition with the PVV, it might torpedo Rutte’s aspirations to become NATO’s next secretary-general. There is a real fear that aligning with Wilders could make Rutte persona non grata on the international stage, particularly with countries like Turkey watching closely.

Thus, the perpetual talks might not just be about political alignment but also about securing Rutte's future on the global stage. It is a calculated gamble - delay forming a government until Rutte secures his NATO position, then possibly expedite the coalition process.

A Farce of Governance

The ultimate irony? A government that has been rejected by the voters continues to legislate, tax, and decide the fate of the Dutch people with no legitimate mandate. Ten months out of power, yet fully in charge—a paradox that underscores the farcical nature of this ongoing political débâcle.

As this charade continues, one must question the integrity of a political system that allows such a mockery of public will. The Dutch political establishment is playing a dangerous game—one that could undermine the very foundations of democracy in the country.

The End of the System
The Netherlands now finds itself at a crossroads. Will it continue to allow a discredited elite to override the clear will of its people, or will it embrace the change that voters have demanded? The current situation is not just a political crisis; it is a crisis of confidence in the entire democratic process.

As the impasse drags on, the patience of the Dutch people is wearing thin. The electorate has spoken, yet their voices are muffled by political maneuvering and cowardice. How long will they tolerate this political circus?

As this political deadlock continues, the latest opinion polls suggest that the Dutch public's tolerance for the current situation is rapidly diminishing. The PVV, under Geert Wilders' leadership, is not only holding its ground but is actually gaining significant traction. According to recent surveys, if elections were held today, the PVV would secure 45 seats—an increase of 8 seats from their last year's landslide victory. Meanwhile, Pieter Omtzigt's NSC is witnessing a dramatic loss, shedding half of its voter base, and the VVD has seen its support erode by nearly 20%.

This is a clear signal from the Dutch electorate—they are demanding change and may no longer stand idle as their calls for a new direction remain unheeded by the current political elites.

This underscores a broader dissatisfaction with the status quo and serves as a potent reminder to the establishment: the people's patience has limits. As the political impasse drags on, the likelihood increases that the next national elections could bring about a seismic shift in the Dutch political landscape, potentially realigning the nation's future trajectory in profound ways.

The only question question we have to ask ourselves is: will it truly matter if that happens?


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