Netherlands: Right-wing parties form unstable government.

New paper and website of CWI in Netherlands!

In the Netherlands a cabinet, with back-bench support from the racist Freedom Party, has been formed. The political situation is complicated. The agreement to form a government between the traditional capitalist parties CDA (Christian Democrats) and VVD (Liberal Party) is based on a program of huge cuts (€18 billion worth) in welfare, healthcare, education and cultural spending. These two parties, the traditional capitalist parties in the Netherland have, however only 52 seats in parliament combined.

They cannot rule alone. They have sought support from the right wing, populist Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders. He has agreed to support the CDA and VVD government from the back benches, not participating in it directly. He will support the cuts and so participate in the government from a distance. This gives an air of respectability to his anti-Islamic, racist propaganda. This situation is similar to that of Denmark.

One of the PVV’s tenets is that Islam is not a religion but a detestable political ideology, akin to fascism. This is impossible to stomach for the Christian Democrats, so both parties have ‘agreed to disagree’. Both parties can say what they like on these issues, which in practice provides the PVV with a license to attack Islam. The essence of the new government is that the weakened traditional parties get their major cuts and the PVV can continue to blame immigrants. The wide-spread feeling is that the right, the neoliberals who have caused the crisis, are now blaming immigrants, the left – anybody they can get their hands on – while passing the bill for the capitalist crisis to the poor.

Since VVD and CDA desperately wanted this right-wing coalition, they have made a number of “social” concessions to the PVV: plans for the lowering of unemployment benefits and measures to make it easier to fire workers have been shelved. The entrepreneurs are disappointed about this.

The austerity package of €18 billion mainly involves an attack on social benefits, health care and education, the cultural sector, while holding back fro measures which directly hit the pockets and living standards of most workers in the private sector. This government is trying, under the influence of the Freedom Party, to avoid a major confrontation with other sectors of the working class.

Simultaneously, the new coalition agreement offers room for the racist propaganda of Geert Wilders. His support for this government gives him a semblance of respect and decency. He will use this for his racist propaganda. The capitalist parties single out the weaker sections of the working class and try to divide the workers along racial lines as much as possible in order to weaken resistance.

They try to divide the workers along racial lines, Dutch against foreigners, Dutch against "Islam". The labor movement must defend itself against these attempts to divide the opposition and fight against racism. Only 26% think that the new government will finish its four year term. But hope will not make the new government fall, only resistance will.

This right wing government is also possible because the other capitalist parties, like the Labour Party and a few other neo-liberal organisations like the Green Lefts have very similar plans: cuts, cuts and more cuts. The only variation lies in the timetable for implementation. A so-called “left” government would have cut unemployment benefits and made it easier for workers to be fired!

It will take workers a while to recover from the “shock” factor. This is a government of mild reaction. The other parties offer no alternative. But workers will not stand idly by while the bill for the capitalist crisis mounts and the sick and the old get robbed.

In the Offensive for a Socialist Alternative!

CWI Netherlands launches new paper and website

Socialistisch Alternatief, is now the successor of the paper Offensief

After our founding in 1977, with the names "Inter" and "Voorwaarts", since the early 1980s, the Dutch section of the CWI used the name "Offensive", but times change, and now, we move forward under a new name "Socialist Alternative".

With this new name we want to underline the need for a socialist alternative, in a period where the crisis of capitalism is hitting more and more aspects of everyone’s life. With "Offensive" we wanted at the time to express the need for a change in the character of the class struggle in the 1980’s which was of a very defensive nature to keep the gains of the working class against the attacks of the governments. "Offensive" was the right name for that period and we still hold the basic message dear: only through struggle can we as the working class, in the Netherlands and internationally, get somewhere.

There are many parallels with the 1980’s and now. Like then, capitalism is now in crisis, we are again being confronted with rising unemployment and harsh cuts in all Western countries. In the neo-colonial world, capitalism means hunger, war and environmental disasters. The objective need for a socialist society has never been greater.

However, socialism as a living alternative is now less present in the minds of workers and youth. The collapse of the Stalinist states and the ideological propaganda offensive of the right which stated that capitalism had "won" and socialism doesn’t work, have had their effect. We counter pose to that, that socialism has nothing to do with the Stalinist regimes and that socialism can only work if it is democratic and not limited to a small number of countries. Another factor in our name change is that, in recent years, the word "offensive" is more and more related to a military context, especially against the background of the brutal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

With "Socialist Alternative" we want to underline that socialism is the alternative to capitalism and appeal to youth and workers who are looking for an answer on this system. We want to have discussions with them and move into action with them. Are you one of those that want to fight for a socialist society? Join us!

You can reach us on: (Dutch)

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October 2010