Jazz Shaw, Hot Air, January 16, 2017
The elections in the United States may finally be over, but in the Netherlands things are just beginning to heat up. Their general elections take place two months from now on March 15th and the latest comprehensive polling shows that the Dutch are in for some serious upheaval.
Some of the biggest pollsters in the region agree that Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) is on the cusp of winning the largest number of seats in the nation’s Parliament.
What the Dutch may be in for is not a revolutionary new Prime Minister, but rather a constitutional crisis. The problem comes down to the fact that they share a trait in common with many of their European neighbors. Specifically, the people don’t actually get to vote to elect their leader. They elect the members of Parliament who then have to get together and select the next Prime Minister. This usually involves a process where several parties bind together into a temporary alliance large enough to form a majority and the leader of the party with the most seats winds up being the PM. In more “normal” times that would make Wilders a shoe-in.
This time around, however, it might not work. The current Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, has gone on record saying that his People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) would not be forming a coalition with the PVV no matter how many seats they win. If the current projections hold true, that takes nearly 25 seats off the table in Wilders’ expected effort to lock together 76 seats in a governing coalition. The PVV is expected to hold 35, so that means he would have to find more than forty additional allies from an even larger group of smaller parties, each with their own agenda. And a number of those other groups have similarly said that they don’t plan to work with the PVV.
If the Netherlands can’t form a governing coalition after the election with the ability to hold together for a while they’ll have a serious mess on their hands. It could result in an unstable government which is forced back to the polls to do it all over again… possibly multiple times. At some point they should probably consider direct elections for selecting a Prime Minister.