Too much choice may lead to a cycle of shaky Governments, writes Political Science major, Catherine Smyth.
One of the most striking things about the Dutch political system and the upcoming elections is the sheer amount of choice that voters have. The whole political spectrum is represented in individual parties, left and right old and young, human and non human, infrastructure and ecosystems, there’s a party for it. This enormous range of options is the greatest strength and weakness of Dutch party politics. On the pro side, the Dutch system is an example of democracy in its purest form, with free, frequent and fair elections and a wide selection of candidates
to choose from. Unlike in systems such as the USA or UK it is very much possible to start up your own party, to gain a significant following, and a seat in the parliament.
Power and influence is available to everyone in the Netherlands and voters are far from trapped in a system with two dominant parties and a smattering of extreme or weaker ones with no hope of recognition. On the other hand, in the con column, too much choice is also counterproductive, what happens when there are too many candidates and a majority cannot be reached?
Then we revert to familiar protocol in the Netherlands and start to form coalitions. Compromise is something that the Dutch traditionally take in their long legged stride, but in past years the formation of coalitions and attempts to find compromise have been detrimental to the entire political system. After only two years of political power, the last government (ie, the Christian Democrats, fronted by Prime Minister Mark Rutte
and The Partij Voor de Vrijhied fronted by Geert Wilders) went through a quick routine of coalition, compromise and collapse after less than two years in power. There is much speculation of the prospect of history repeating itself after September 12th. If a clear majority cannot be made, then it is likely that another coalition will be formed and if we can predict anything from past experiences, negotiation, deadlock and stubborn stalemates could very easily replace action to the extent that the government becomes wedged in another corner and collapses again. The Netherlands risks entering into a vicious cycle and becoming like its neighbouring state, Belgium which has been without a formal government for a significant period
of time. The September 12th elections will be the first in a series of interesting happenings in the Netherlands, for now, the future is still uncertain. Major Dutch internal issues hanging on the elections such as the weed pass, continued subsidising of student’s educational costs and the future of The Netherlands in the European Union are all teetering on the edge of a peak ready to fall one way or the other. The stakes are high, andconsequences are many.