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The erosion of political culture in the Netherlands

The erosion of political culture in the Netherlands

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In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Ronald Plasterk, who was effectively elected, must withdraw from the race. There is also criticism of The Hague at EU level.

The Hague – On Wednesday, the debate on the new government program of Geert Wilders' right-wing coalition was on the parliament's agenda. But there was already a lot of controversy on Pentecost weekend. Most important of all is Ronald Plasterk, 67, one of the country's “smartest molecular biologists” according to the scientific organization NWO, and also a member of the Social Democratic Party since 1977. He now desperately wants to become prime minister Head of a right-wing coalition. “When the country calls, you have to have good reasons to refuse,” Plasterk said. This was shortly after the elections that took place last November. Wilders then asked him to explore the possibilities of forming a right-wing alliance.

They both know each other. They both like to feel superior to others. They are both driven by huge egos. Plasterk and Wilders presented their ideas in their own columns De Telegraph In the case of Plastrek, it has been publicly noted how he has become more and more isolated from the Social Democrats and, in the case of Wilders, how he has shifted the climate of opinion to the right. Line by line we approached. Also the place to post a Blasterk letter to the editor. De Telegraphonce the unofficial organ of the soul of the Dutch people, is the right-wing publication of the official government.

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Geert Wilders (left) and Ronald Plasterk in coalition negotiations. © Agence France-Presse

Plasterk and Wilders: Two egos clash

The only thing missing from the coalition is a new prime minister. The name Plasterk was at the top. But one person stopped him from doing so: Peter Omtzgut, head of the New Reform Party (NSC). Umtzigt once left the Christian Democrats after political bullying and temporarily withdrew from politics. The man is easily weak. Plasterk, who after completing his PhD at Cambridge conducted research in the team of John Sulston, who later won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, clashed with Omtzigt during the explorations. When he met with the media at a hotel for background discussions, Plasterk used the investigator's limousine. Blastark made this public, and Omtzigt scowled. A big ego met a very sensitive one.

Then the apology came through a political advertisement in the newspaper. But this is not enough. The young liberals from Mark Rutte's VVD party reject Blasterck, as do the young liberals from Umzigt's National Security Council party. The newspaper De Volkskrant It's blasphemous that researcher Blasterk misses out on the premiership just to have a perfect CV. The newspaper NRC Handelsblad Gives more solid grounds. Plasterk sold its biotech startup two years ago for €32 million. It is said to have infringed patent rights. The review is ongoing. Complaints about accounting errors also emerged.

Suspicious dealings – Plasterk withdraws his candidacy

Plasterk is also said to have pressured philanthropist Siewert van Linden to invest in his company. However, he is suspected of diverting donations and currently has to respond to coronavirus mask deals. This does not sound like the moral fresh start that the new right-wing coalition promises. Plasterk then withdrew its application on Monday afternoon. This is a serious defeat for Wilders.

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Right-wing populist leader Geert Wilders expressed his willingness to give up the premiership.
Right-wing populist leader Geert Wilders expressed his willingness to give up the premiership. © RTR

The Netherlands is currently experiencing an erosion of political culture in the form of rapid movement, which now also continues in Parliament. There, Parliament Speaker Martin Bosma of Wilder's Freedom Party objected to the attribution of “right-wing extremism” to the new government coalition during the debate on the new government. Researchers in the field of professional extremism distinguish between right-wing extremism (on the right-wing fringe) and right-wing extremism – going beyond constitutionalism. German courts also recognize this distinction. But Bosma wanted to limit the free discussion in the plenary session linguistically. Green Party leader Jesse Claver demanded: “We have to name the monster by his name.”

At the European Union level as well: the liberals criticize the alliance with Wilders

There are also concerns from outside. Valerie Heer, leader of the liberal Renewal group in the European Parliament, expressed on social media her “disapproval and concern” about the new alliance with “a party whose values ​​we do not share.” The renewal group also belongs to Free Democratic Party So is outgoing Prime Minister Rutte's right-wing liberal VVD party, which is known to strike a deal with Wilders in the future. Meanwhile, Heyer is a comrade of French President Emmanuel Macron, who opposes Marine Le Pen's success in the European elections. Far-right alliances are uncomfortable.

Thus Heyer thought about the future of the VVD in the Renewal faction. The new government in The Hague is not only shaking the Netherlands. (Peter Rysbeck)