The Dutch (and EU) Establishment Protects Itself. Wilders Not to Join Group in EP

Our American readers will find this hard to believe, but the electoral system in the Netherlands has been devised to ensure that new or small parties will not be able to win more than 20% of the seats in the Dutch Parliament. Indeed, Dutch law forbids new parties and parties which currently hold less than 16 of the 150 seats in Parliament to put forward more than 30 candidates for parliament.

This law is causing concern for the popular politician Geert Wilders, the founder and leader of the Freedom Party, PVV, which at present holds 9 seats. The latest poll predicts that the PVV will win 32 seats in the general elections next year. If Mr. Wilders does as well or even better than the poll predicts, the additional seats above 30 which his party wins will be evenly divided among the other parties.

Wilders has asked parliament to change the law to allow him to put forward more than 30 candidates. It remains to be seen whether the other parties will agree to change the law. [Update: The major parties announced this afternoon that they are willing to change the law -- pb]

In the Netherlands, it is the custom that the largest party in Parliament provides the Prime Minister and puts together a government coalition. At present, the Dutch Christian-Democrat CDA of Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende is the largest party, holding 41 seats in Parliament. The latest poll predicts that the CDA will shrink to 30 seats while Mr. Wilders’ PVV becomes the largest party with 32 seats and the Labour Party PvdA (currently Mr. Balkenende’s coalition partner with 33 seats) comes third with 22 seats.

If the law is not changed and the PVV does as well in the voting booth as in the present polls, Mr. Wilders will be denied all his seats above 30 and be forced to give one seat to Labour and one to the Christian-Democrats. This will allow the CDA to remain the largest party with 31 seats.

European Parliament

Meanwhile, the Dutch establishment is anxiously waiting for the results of tomorrow’s European elections. These results will only be announced on Sunday evening, after all of the 27 European Union member states have finished voting. The Dutch expect Mr. Wilders to win. Polls predict that the PVV, which is currently not represented in the European Parliament (EP), will win 4 of the 25 Dutch seats there. The EP has a total of 732 seats.

Pundits are wondering whether the PVV will join one of the formally recognised groups in the EP.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who do not belong to a recognised group, the so-called “non-inscrits,” are severely restricted in their parliamentary work.
This, too, may be difficult to understand for our American readers who might naively think that all members of parliament are equal since they each represent their respective voters. If all voters are equal, then all elected representatives must be equal with regard to rights and duties.

In the European Parliament, however, this is not the case. The EP has “privileged” and “underprivileged” MEPs. Members who do not belong to a formally recognised group receive less money, fewer staff, can only speak for one (sic) minute during debates, may not table amendments in the plenary session, cannot chair parliamentary committees, etc.

For a Group to be formally recognised in the European Parliament, it must consist of 25 MEPs from 7 of the 27 EU member states. This used to be only 20 members from 6 countries, but the rules have been tightened with the specific aim of making it harder for non-establishment parties to form a group. Following this week’s European elections a realignment of the groups is expected. The British Conservatives have announced that they will leave the Christian-Democrat group, the so-called “European People’s Party” EPP, to become the nucleus of a group of Conservative parties, while two of the existing smaller groups are expected to dissolve.

The two groups expected to dissolve after this week’s elections are the Independence/Democracy Group (ID), which is the Eurosceptic (anti-EU) group around the British UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), and the Union of the Europe of Nations (UEN), which, despite its name and its claim to be Eurosceptic, was led by the Europhile Irishman Brian Crowley of the Fianna Fáil party.

Two parties formerly belonging to the UEN, the Danish People’s Party (DF) and the Italian Lega Nord (LN), have already announced that they are leaving the UEN. Both parties are eurosceptic and oppose the Islamization of Europe. They are willing to form a new group with the Belgian Vlaams Belang and have also been talking to the Austrian Freedom Party FPÖ. They would also like to form a group with UKIP and, if he is willing to team up with them, with Mr. Wilders’ PVV.

In an article in the Dutch newspaper Trouw today, the leftist journalist Rinke van den Brink, a self-declared expert of the “far-right” and the author of a number of biased books, such as the “Internationale de la haine” (The International of Hatred), writes about “Wilders’ European family.” Mr. van den Brink talked to Filip Dewinter (VB), Mogens Camre and Morten Messerschmidt (DF), Mario Borghezio (LN), Andreas Mölzer (FPÖ), and Gerard Batten (UKIP). Mr. Batten says he personally favors cooperation with Mr. Wilders but is not sure whether his party leadership is keen to address the issues (read: the fight against Islamisation) which have made the PVV so successful.

Mr. van den Brink’s article is part of a concerted project. Tonight, Dutch television broadcasts a documentary with the same title, in the hope of persuading the Dutch voters to abstain from voting for Mr. Wilders tomorrow. Part of the documentary is an interview with the Dutch academic André Krouwel who warns that Mr. Wilders is an extremist. Mr. Krouwel says Mr. Wilders is dangerous because he, and the other parties who would like to team up with him, emphasize the importance of national sovereignty over European cooperation. “Giving a central role to the national states will lead to many serious problems: to economic decline and to tensions between the states. It endangers prosperity and peace in Europe,” he says. [video]



On Dutch television this evening (June 3), Geert Wilders announced that he will not team up to form a group with other parties in the European Parliament. He said that joining a group would "lead to confusion".

He said he realizes that not joining a group has consequences such as less speaking time and less influence, but he is willing to accept these. Opponents of Wilders in Brussels say that as he will not belong to a group, his influence in the European Parliament will be limited.

Reply # 2

@ Aengus

Now that I have free time again, I will try one more time to get through to you. 

Again, you seem not to read what is in front of you. I have given you 2 general (inevitably vague and idealistic) definitions of "democracy".  At the same time to make judgments in the real/concrete world one needs to apply simple criteria that are measurable.  Among the latter I suggested (a) freedom of political speech (or opinion) and (b) habeas corpus.  What practical criteria do you apply?

I would strongly disagree with any notion that democracy could be reduced to "majority rule" or even less to specific electoral 'technicalities'.   Genuine democray is possible under numerous different types of electoral rules, but it is NOT possible in the absence of freedom of speech/opinion and/or of habeas corpus for all citizens.

The "electoral college" is one technical rule which applies only to one particular election (among many others), i.e. the one pertaining to the Presidency at the federal level, in the complex sytem of checks and balances that constitutes the American constitutional Republic.  To apply the predicate "democratic" or "undemocratic" to one such rule is not serious.  The practical effect of the 'Electoral College' is that the election of the US President is based on 50 separate -  but simultaneous - elections in 50 different constituancies.  There is no a priori reason to consider that rule as "undemocratic" or less democratic than many other technical rules.  In fact the Electoral College could be a useful 'example' for future European presidential elections, as it helps to balance different regional interests, and prevents populous regions or 'states' from 'swamping' less populous ones.  The electoral college is one 'check' (among many) which was designed to help ensure political power dispersion.  More specifically, in the context of a continent-size country like the USA, it is intended to ensure that the federal President is not only supported by the majority of the voters but also by a large number of 'regions' or states.  It helps to prevent or check a potential tyranny of a populous 'majority' over 'minorities'.     



I believe in democracy when defined as representative government and a government by and for the people. I oppose democracy when it is used to denote the idea that the majority or the people is always right. I'm not necessarily opposed to monarchy as long as it is tempered by a Constitution and respects the rights and liberties of its 'subjects'. Nevertheless, I'm much more in favor of republican government. Either way, both need a natural aristocracy that derives its status from a morally upright character, and strong abilities.

I believe in self-determination and self-government, but I believe this type of government also requires shared traditions, a sense of brotherhood, and first and foremost, a moral, civilized and strong people. Only a weak people wants [a] strong Leader[s] they can put their full trust in. To ensure that an immoral majority does not disregard the rights and freedoms of a minority, we need a simple and straightforward Constitution or a Bill of Rights which outlines the values that bind the nation and the rights and liberties of individuals. Self-government requires morality. Morality requires order. Liberty without order is anarchy. That is what it means to be Right-wing and conservative to me.

As for who ought to be in charge, I'm strongly in favor of meritocratic government, meaning that only those who merit to be in government should be allowed to govern. Today just about anyone qualifies to be in government and more often than not they contribute absolutely nothing at all to the nation. How do we determine who qualifies? Those who qualify must be grown up adults, they must have contributed in some way to the nation or have distinguished themselves in one way or another, they must be sane, wise and moral people who are loyal to the people as a whole and the traditions that bind it together, e.g. a Bill of Rights, rather than the party in which they hold membership. Their personal lives must testify of what they believe in, and they must be literate. I would not say they need to hold this or that degree because more often than not the highly educated among our people are also highly immoral and leftist.

Just some of my thoughts.

Republican government # 3

@ Aengus

I have the strange impression that you have not read - not truly read - what I wrote.  At least, I gave you my conception of what "democracy" means to me.  I still have not read what your conception of "democracy" is.   

You can find numerous theoretical 'definitions' of the Greek-derived word "democracy", ranging from "government by the people" to something like "majority rule".   Now, what could that mean in practice?  It could cover a wide variety of possibilities.  In my conception of democracy it is the people that should 'control' government, and not vice versa.  I submit to you that when there is no genuine freedom of speech, and no effective respect for habeas corpus for every citizen, then it is the government (or the ruling establishment) that controls the people (usually via 'dependent' media and money), and not the other way around.   

Electoral systems and  a variety of 'rules' can help - or hinder - in determining how particular 'majorities' could be 'measured' or established, but they certainly in themselves can not and do NOT ensure that democracy exists in a particular society.   You can not reduce democracy, nor its opposite of nondemocracy, simply to any particular electoral component or rule, nor to any particular electoral voting majority.  No, "democracy" is a broad concept that requires a very broad and difficult judgment, and it will always be a 'matter of degree'. 

You would certainly be mistaken if you were to think that the "passing of a law" (like the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679) necessarily would mean that the content of that law actually would correspond to 'reality'.  Britain was certainly NOT a "democracy" in the 17th and 18th centuries. And, in the contemporary world, some of the most oppressive regimes have a facade of democratic-sounding constitutions and formal legislation.  In fact some of the most hideous regimes in the world are the ones who can claim to have the largest 'majorities' in elections. Some of the worst tyrannies in the world are societies in which 'majorities' mistreat minorities. Majority rule divorced from fundamental individual rights for all citizens is not "democracy". And do NOT think for a moment that the current election in Iran (no matter how big the 'majority' of the winner will be) deserves the qualification of "democratic". The reason is: absence of freedom of political speech for the real opposition (as opposed to the tolerated one) and no real power alternation (i.e. perpetuation of the same regime).

So, I repeat, if you want to separate the real democratic societies from the pretend-democratic ones, you have to look beneath the surface.  And I suggest that the best measuring sticks or criteria for that necessary 'judgment' are the ACTUAL conditions with regard to freedom of speech and habeas corpus. 

So, I am afraid that the "fetishism" was all yours, in the sense of using a simplistic  measuring stick like 'electoral college' to make a judgment about democracy or nondemocracy.  And a considered and wise judgment should be the aim of all sensible people, not simply of "citizens of the American Republic".  





"You can find numerous theoretical 'definitions' of the Greek-derived word "democracy", ranging from "government by the people" to something like "majority rule"."

Either of those definitions would be fine.

"You would certainly be mistaken if you were to think that the "passing of a law" (like the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679) necessarily would mean that the content of that law actually would correspond to 'reality'. Britain was certainly NOT a "democracy" in the 17th and 18th centuries."

Yes, I know it wasn't a democracy. That was my point. *You* associate Habeas Corpus in your mind with democracy but it is not instrinsic to that system. As a legal concept it can be exist in an absolute monarchy (Britain) or a republic (America). Habeas Corpus is not particular to a democratic form of government.

Although you also seem to be saying that Habeas Corpus wasn't actually applied in Britain - it did not "correspond to 'reality'" i.e. it was a sham. Do you have any evidence for this or are you just saying it to bolster your case? It would be news to a lot of historians.

"So, I repeat, if you want to separate the real democratic societies from the pretend-democratic ones, you have to look beneath the surface."

Sure but is the world divided evenly into democracies and sham-democracies? What about people who consciously prefer a monarchist or republican form of government and say so?

" the sense of using a simplistic measuring stick like 'electoral college' to make a judgment about democracy or nondemocracy."

I didn't say that any particular country was a nondemocracy - just that the electoral college is undemocratic, which was meant not as a criticism but as a mere stating of fact. Clearly it is controversial to say so.

Republican government # 2

@ Aengus

It is unwise (in the sense of superficial) to label the electoral college "undemocratic".  Unless you want to adhere to some unrealistic notion of 'democracy' that NO human political system could achieve. 

The electoral college is just 1 element, among many, of a complex political system.  Elections do of course matter, and they are an essential part of democracy.   But, elections can be organised in countless different ways, under countless different rules - and they are! - throughout the world.  The 'conditions' under which elections are held are often much more important than the formal electoral rules employed.

In my view, "democracy" can only be judged by its results.  By that I mean essentially 2 things.  First, is there REGULAR power alternation between different ideologies/parties/personalities and, second, are fundamental INDIVIDUAL rights being respected.  Crucial among the latter are (a) freedom of political speech and (b) habeas corpus.  

So, rather than adhering to abstract (theoretical)  notions of 'democracy', I advocate observing empirical results.  If there is no regular power alternation between parties/individuals, you can be sure that the electoral rules are 'rigged'. The possiblities are endless (e.g. via large media control, like in Russia today, via public financing in much of Western Europe which tends to 'freeze' existing parties in place, etc...).  And, if there is no genuine freedom of political speech, i.e. if the established authorities can 'criminalise' (via laws) the opinions or speech of opponents, what could be the meaning of 'elections'?          

Democracy vs. Monarchy vs. Republicanism


Why is it unwise for me to label the electoral college "undemocratic"? The electoral college is undemocratic.

Yes the electoral college is just one element, among many, of a complex political system. I have never stated otherwise.

That you associate "democracy" with freedom of speech and habeas corpus is certainly your right but it has no bearing on the actual state of affairs in the West of the 21st century.

The Habeas Corpus Act was passed into law by the British monarchy in 1679. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is considered by many to be the greatest protection of freedom of speech in history, was passed by into law by the Continental Congress in 1789.

I don't understand why citizens of the American Republic are so determined to turn "democracy" into a kind of fetish that they can devour for personal pleasure at their convenience.

@ Aengus

The electoral college is undemocratic? How about election threshold?

Republican government

Frank Lee,

"When the 2000 presidential election in America selected a president who had not received a plurality of the popular vote, pundits overseas criticized the electoral college as undemocratic."

The electoral college is undemocratic. The United States Constitution guarantees to each state "a republican form of government." It does not guarantee a "democratic" form of government.

What will they invent then?

They must be running out of inspiration if it is everything they are capable of coming up with. Long live Dutch democracy: If, as a mainstream party, you happen to fail to conjure a majority of the popular vote, do not worry, we are going to fix that in no time; the PVV is going to pay! I wonder how European leaders still dare call themselves democrats as the sham of democracy is so obvious. It is all kangaroo law. I suggest that we use--for we still have not been stripped of that right--our legitimate right to withstand oppression whatever the form it takes by overthrowing the self-crowned traitors. Oppressive rules are not to be put up with, we the people have been endowed with natural rights, and should not be deprived of them so easily, for if we are not entitled to elect the party of our choice any more, what is democracy good for? Such plots are miserable and scurvy, they perfectly embody that generation of spineless, multi-culti smarmy politicians who only deserve the noose for their treachery.

Third parties

@ Ronduck

Two points:

1) No parties are "completely excluded" from politics in the US at present.  In fact, one could argue that NEW parties tend to be more excluded in Europe than in the US, because public financing of parties and political campaigns has become much more pronounced in Europe than in the US, and the established parties in Europe tend to exclude newcomers from this public trough.  In fact, it is even worse, in recent years several European countries have banned certain political parties by criminalising their real/imagined ideas or 'speech'. In fact, in the Netherlands this fate may well be in store for Mr Wilders and his new party in the foreseeable future. Mr Wilders himself is currently being prosecuted in the courts, under current Dutch law, for statements he has made. Could you imagine Obama in 2008 being indicted in US courts for some of his campaign 'speeches'!?

2)  There is nothing inherently positive about having multiple parties.  It is much better for internal conflicts to get settled first within large political families/parties (via primaries) than to have a multiplicity of parties.  The latter system often leads to 'coalition-governments' (usually one of the main parties in coalition with some smaller 'extremist' parties), and thus tends to introduce genuine extremists into the Cabinet/Executive Power.  As a result, the ruling main party then tends to make concessions to extremists in order to maintain the coaltion and to keep the 'other' major party from power.   By contrast, in a genuine two-party system the extremes tend to be weeded out in primaries, because neither of the two main parties would normally want to risk going to the country with an extremist candidate.  Of course, there are exceptions, and the last US federal election seems to have been one.  The Democratic party did go to the country with an extremist candidate for the presidency...and they actually won (largely because of the timing of the financial crisis and the recession).  The blame rests with the public, i.e. the state of the broader culture, not the two-party system.

I hope that you find this comment informative and useful.

At least the Dutch have

At least the Dutch have third parties. Here in the US most third parties are completely excluded from politics. 

Typical (2)

Don't hold your breath waiting for a sensible answer to that question.

PS Something gives me the distinct impression that you won't.


When the 2000 presidential election in America selected a president who had not received a plurality of the popular vote, pundits overseas criticized the electoral college as undemocratic.  Even at the time I thought that was odd since Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parliamentary governments have single-district systems that run the risk of selecting a prime minister whose party (or even coalition) receive fewer votes than the "losing" party or coalition.  Now I see what a strange mess the Dutch system is, yet I'm not surprised.  This seems to be the most basic difference between Americans, who have a tendency toward self-criticism, and Europeans, who don't.  If a European election resulted in a "loss" for the majority party, Americans would take the opportunity to reflect on our own problematic system.  But when an American election results in a "loss" for the plurality party, Europeans take the opportunity to ignore their own broken sytems and pile on the Americans.  Can someone please explain to me how brazen intellectual dishonesty can be so widespread and remain unchallenged across so many European cultures?

Experts in Marxism

These self-declared experts on the Far Right only prove themselves to be experts in Marxist thought by depicting Wilders' party and other right-wing nationalist and conservative parties as 'Fascists'. Perhaps they ought to be reminded of the fact that hardcore Neo-nazis and Fascists like to team up with radical Islam in their common goals of destroying Capitalism, democracy, Christianity, and especially 'global Jewry', also known as 'anti-Zionism' these days. I'm sure they won't say a word about the Anti-Zionist Party in France though. As for national sovereignty and European cooperation, does anyone even remotely believe that the EU is about 'cooperation'? Countries like Switzerland, Norway and Iceland have long shown that cooperation and peaceful relations are perfectly possible without any centralized supranational institutions like the EU today. The Netherlands is also not a totalitarian North Korean state insisting on its sovereignty. The Dutch government derives it sovereignty from the people through the principle of representative government, which is entirely absent in states like China or North Korea. But, of course, you can't expect the All-Knowing Marxists to be able to make that distinction.