In less than two weeks, we’ve watched the Dutch election transformed from a two-party race into a three-way tie, as the Dutch Labour Party leader Diederik Samsom has burst into a starring role on the Dutch political stage.
Samsom’s party, the social democratic Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA, the Labour Party), now either leads or is essentially tied with the two prior leading parties in advance of the September 12 elections for the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament.
Those two parties are the center-right, free-market liberal Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD, the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy), led by current prime minister Mark Rutte, and the stridently leftist, anti-austerity Socialistische Partij (SP, the Socialist Party) led by Emile Roemer.
In the latest Ipsos Nederland poll and projection, Rutte’s VVD would win 34 seats, Roemer’s Socialists would win 27 seats and Samsom’s Labour would win 26 seats. Three other smaller parties win a significant share of the vote: the anti-Muslim (and now increasingly anti-Europe) Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV, the Party for Freedom), led by Geert Wilders, would win just 20 seats, the progressive Democraten 66 (Democrats 66) would win 14 seats, and the center-right Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA, Christian Democratic Appeal) would win just 13 seats. TNS Nipo and Maurice du Fond polls show an even more ascendant Labour result.
Rutte’s VVD emerged with the most seats in the prior 2010 election, and he formed a minority government with the CDA, with outside support coming from Wilder’s PVV. The current government fell in April, when Wilders refused to support Rutte’s budget package, which aimed to cut the 2013 Dutch budget to within 3% of GDP.
Labour, then headed by former Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen, finished with one fewer seat than the VVD in 2010, and is currently the main opposition party in the Tweede Kamer, but it had consistently lost support ever since — until now. Cohen stepped down earlier this year, and Samsom, a more leftist Labour leader, replaced him in March.
So the latest poll capture the recent resounding resurgence for Labour, but also indicates that the Socialists and the Democrats 66 would still improve on their 2010 election totals, indicating that the Dutch parliament would be a much more anti-austerity parliament — a Labour-Socialist coalition is a possibility, as is a so-called ‘purple coalition’ between Labour and the VVD. Labour last governed the Netherlands from 1994 to 2002 under prime minister Wim Kok, when the VVD and Labour joined together under a so-called ‘purple coalition’ (alongside the Dutch Greens and the Democrats 66), and Labour and the CDA governed in coalitions in the 1980s.
Whew! But that doesn’t explain why Samsom has so drastically improved his party’s chances to the point where he is now a credible contender, with Rutte and Roemer, to become The Netherlands’s next prime minister. Here are five reasons why: Continue reading Samsomania! Five reasons why everything’s coming up roses for the Dutch Labour Party