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A short history of Dutch politics and a few comments on its constitution.

Reader comment on item: Why I Stand with Geert Wilders
in response to reader comment: Thanks, Charles.

Submitted by Charles (Netherlands), Jan 26, 2010 at 13:49

Well Peter, here we go. The ARP was founded in 1879. In 1973 the party joined the newly formed 'Christen Democratisch Appel'. the CDA, comprising 3 existing Christian parties. The other 2 were the CHU (the Christian Historical Union = protestants) and the KVP (the 'Katholieke Volks Partij' = mainstream Catholics). These 3 were basically all conservative movements. The ARP became more progressive in the sixties however. In 1980 all 3 parties were officially abolished and continued under the name CDA. Ever sinds, the CDA has moved to the center and has been the politcal powerhouse of Dutch politics. A famous expression of one of the party-bosses of the CDA once was: "the CDA does not bend to the right, and does not bend to the left". That pretty much nailed the party in the center and ever since they 'rule this country', letting other parties fight over the remaining seats to join them in government. This situation has however twice succesfully been challenged: in 1994 for the first time and in 1998. In both cases the Labor party broke the spell in becoming the largest partu and decided to form a cabinet with....the liberals of the VVD (and another left-liberal groep called D66). A pretty bizar trio actually. In those 8 years (1994-2002) Dutch politics started to bog down slowly. It just didn't work. In 2002 Pim Fortuyn smashed everything up and would have been the next Prime Minister, would he have lived.

Conservatism is a political school of thought which has not really been well attended to in the Netherlands sinds the sixties. In this period the country went through a pretty turbulent time were the progressive left got on top and never let go sinds then. Even the classic liberal party (the VVD and Mr.Wilders old party) shifted to the center and even center left(!) of the political scale.

Mr.Wilders can be called a conservative. He belonged to the 'right wing' of the VVD, which was becoming almost non-existent in this party as they moved up still further to the center. In US terms, he can be seen as a social-Libertarian, but with a twist! His social agenda does have definite boundaries however. Politically speaking, it is of Libertarian mold.

Anyway, the BIG problem in the Netherlands on the political front, was that there was NO balance anymore on the political scale. The right c.q. conservatives c.q. 'nationals' did not have a political home anymore, seeing that all big political parties moved to the (safe) center. Dutch politics became one big consensus cesspool in which everybody held everybody pinned down. This slowly but shurely paralyzed Dutch politics to the point were the whole thing came to a social standstill. It took about 20 years.

The only truly conservative party which has remained in the Netherlands, is the SGP, an orthodox protestant party, which are on the fringes of Dutch politics and don't play a significant role holding 2 seats and not growing, albeit, not shrinking either (they really represent the 'Bible-belt' community actually).

Wilders growth does come from a wide range though. His voters come from the old Fortuyn supporters (a mixed bag of supporters of just about all walks of life), but certainly also from CDA, PvdA, SP(!) (=hard core classic socialists and even neo-communists), VVD ofcourse, but also a definite increase of religious (Christian) voters, who see in him the man who says it like it is, regarding the uneasy feeling many Christians are getting about the growing Islam in the country. As can be seen in increasing numbers, Christian voters do NOT want to comply to a more tolerant islam stance. All this contributes to Wilders following. The Parties official stand however at this point, keep Mr.Wilders' PVV at arms lenghts, trying to marginalize him and his voters as racist bigots etc. Not very smart really, if not a bit dishonest...

As for the Dutch constitution, well.....

....in 1983, after the (very) turbulent 70's, the parlement, at that time increasingly politically correct (if not somehow naive), amended article 1 of the constitution of the Dutch Kingdom (originaly from 1848) in a big way, taking a radically new step to a place where 'no man has gone before' and decided to replace art 1 of the constitution with banning discrimination all together "on the grounds of religion, conviction, political orientation, race or gender" on which the then communist(!) leader Marcus Bakker proposed to add "or any other ground", which was also accepted! Call it the famous Dutch tolerance. This article made (among other) any form of religious critique very difficult. In 1983 this was not really a problem ofcourse, because the only religion of any importance at that time was Judeo-Christianity. Criticizing Christians and their beliefs was easy, seeing their centuries-old adjustments to Liberal democracy. Few had ever heard of Islam in 1983, let alone political islam...

Art.1: "All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted."

This article, along with some of the penal code are now beeing used in the Wilders court case. As anybody can see, this article really goes places ('political opinion' 'belief' 'any other grounds' ) which is stretching the legal boundaries to say the least.

Article 7 of the constitution stipulates however:

  • "1. No one shall require prior permission to publish thoughts or opinions through the press, without prejudice to the responsibility of every person under the law."
  • "3. No one shall be required to submit thoughts or opinions for prior approval in order to disseminate them by means other than those mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, without prejudice to the responsibility of every person under the law. The holding of performances open to persons younger than sixteen years of age may be regulated by Act of Parliament in order to protect good morals."
  • What must be taken in (very) serious consideration however, is that Mr. Wilders is a member of parlement, and as such is also a lawmaker, and has special privileges as well as legal exemptions to say just about anything about anything or anybody. Mr. Wilders is not just any John Doe screaming about.

    These are very interesting times in Dutch society indeed...

    All in all, this country looks like getting itself in very hot water. The whole legal community is up in arms about it and many others are very worried where this is all leading too.

    Submitting....

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    Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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