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Site Columns

By Christian
May 5, 2002 - 3:56 AM

Hello World!

Ten days from now general parliamentary elections will be held here in the Netherlands. As in other European countries, there look to be massive changes in the political landscape, with all established major parties either losing a lot of votes or remaining basically at the same level as four years ago, and both the Greens and several new parties winning quite a few seats.

One of these new parties is especially worrying, namely the so-called List Pim Fortuyn, headed by our own Dutch version of the right-wing populists that have been doing so well lately. Some of the wonderful points in his party program have included closing the borders to all refugees except those from France, the UK, Germany and Denmark or kicking everyone with terminal diseases out of disability leave in order to cut costs. He's currently doing rather well in the polls and looks to have a shot at becoming the third or fourth party in the country, which has got me rather worried.

As I figured I had to at least try and do something about this, two months ago I finally joined the party I'd always sympathised with, Democrats '66, and so today I went out for the first time to spam the inner city of Utrecht with party leaflets. The experience certainly was an interesting one - our stand was placed right between a group of loudly singing activists of the Green Party and a woman in a tree suit who was advertising the environmentally aware policies of our local energy company, so we may have gotten lost a bit with our less-spectacular rolls of Democratic peppermint. ("D66 - for a fresh taste and view!")

Luckily people did still seem to be interested in our leaflets, and we even ran out of them halfway through. D66, which was part of the government coalition for the past eight years, also stands to lose a lot of seats, but we seemed to be able to get about as many people interested as the Greens or the Socialists - and that despite the Socialists handing out free sponges ("The Socialist Party - For clean politics"). The good response today makes me wonder if it wouldn't be a good thing for D66 to organise things like this year-round, rather than just before the elections - surely that'd not only help in getting more support for the party, but also to stay in touch more with the public.

For now, though, it's first a matter of getting as many votes as possible on May 15th. Polls show that one out of every three voters hasn't yet made up his mind, so there certainly is some potential there for D66. More importantly, though, I hope those doubting voters won't all turn to Fortuyn - it'd be an extremely great pity if after years of being a very tolerant country we'd suddenly get a powerful political party with opinions like his.

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